Caravalby Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Published on January 31, 2017 by Flatiron Books
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Source: Serial Subscription
Book Depository / Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .
Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Where to start with Caraval…It was everything I expected and more. Usually when a book has so much hype I end up not liking it for that reason. But with Caraval that was not the case. It was magical, intriguing, and it took me on the ride of a lifetime. There were some issues that I noticed people talking about and will point them out later in the post, but ultimately, Caraval ruined me for other fantasy books. The world-building was so artfully done and I had trouble putting it down.
So first thing’s first…the issue that I saw in Caraval. I saw a post on twitter a few weeks ago that was talking about the violence that appeared from the very start of the book. Scarlett and her sister, Tella, are abused by their father. This is the main reason Scarlett is so hell bent on marrying the count and getting out of her father’s house. We see the violence within the first chapter and it’s a little startling. The person tweeting about this one twitter was shocked that almost no one mentioned this is ANY of their reviews. She said that she would have liked to know ahead of time because it was a huge trigger for her. So I want those of you that are planning on reading Caraval to know that this is there. If this could trigger you in any way, then please don’t pick this book up, you’re mental safety is so much more important <3
Now…onto what I loved about Caraval…Scarlett. She was a little annoying at parts because I wished she would just *notice* things around her. She overthought everything and I just wanted to shake her. But I admired her love for Tella and what she was willing to do to get her back. Even though she was in a place where she couldn’t trust anyone and she had so much to lose, Scarlett never gave up. In the end I was so shocked by the events that happened that I can’t even imagine what Scarlett was thinking. I mean obviously Garber told us because *book* but it’s different reading about it than experiencing it. If I were Scarlett, I wouldn’t have trusted anything afterwards either.
The romance between Scarlett and Julian was also one that I couldn’t help but root for the entire time. Julian started off as someone who obviously didn’t care about anything but getting into Caraval so he could do what he so badly needed to do, but he turned into the only person Scarlett could trust. I honestly loved him from the very beginning. I could tell that he would be good for Scarlett. She was so cautious that she needed someone there to tell her to take the leap of faith. To leap with all her heart and he would be there to catch her if she fell.
I haven’t even mentioned the vibrancy of the world yet…Garber’s writing is so beautiful and elegant. The colors and magic leaped off the page and danced around me. I have never read a fantasy novel that made this happen to me. I would get flashes of color here and there, but nothing like this. I honestly have half a mind to call Garber a witch (the Hogwarts kind of course ;)) herself. It’s the only explanation for such impressive writing and world building.
The ending was a little shocking though. I didn’t know this was supposed to be a series. It read so much like a standalone that I was ready for it to end. I’m intrigued to see where this new twist takes us, but I’m a little nervous. I really hope it’s just as magical as the first one and doesn’t fall prone the the second book blues.