Title – ‘Caraval’
Author – Stephanie Garber
Published – January 31st 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Pages – 402
Format – Hardback
Book Summary –
‘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. ’
*Warning – Contains MINOR spoilers*
Ok so… I’d heard A LOT about this book. And the majority of what I heard raved about how good it was. So as it was when I got a copy in a FairyLoot box I just couldn’t resist… for long… and picked it up. Was it as good as everyone had said? Well… at the start I wasn’t blown away… don’t get me wrong I didn’t hate it but neither did I love it. To put it bluntly… it was average.
Scarlett and Tella were two sisters in an unfortunate situation… and whilst one was looking for a solid and safe future away from their abusive father… all the other wanted was adventure. Two very very contrasting people it seems… but actually in reality they wanted similar things, they weren’t that different after all. All they differed in really was the way they would achieve the things they wanted. And then comes along Caraval… a chance to escape… even just for a day. This mysterious game of sorts… the idea of the Caraval was always left very very open, we got snippets of the event at the start of the book but not quite enough to put a full picture together. And even the pieces of information we got towards the start couldn’t have truly prepared us, the readers, or older sister Scarlett for the reality of Caraval.
Because whilst the Caraval’s beauty definitely shone through… so did it’s darker elements. The ‘game’ brought out the very worst in some people and left Scarlett in quite some predicaments… especially when it came to her ‘mysterious’ companion Julian. Quite a character he was a well. He came across extremely tongue and cheek indeed… but as per most of the characters, had a darker side, or rather… a hidden side as it were. But I don’t think any of us were truly prepared for the twist of events that happened towards the later half of the book.
This later half was when the book truly came to life for me… the first half was, ok… but lacked a little bit of progression as it were, it felt at times as if we were going around in circles with the characters. But the later half… well lets just say the story progressed incredibly well at this point. Puzzle pieces would click into place only to come apart again… this part of the book for me was so well written. So many little twists and turns and I’ll be honest in saying that whilst we were warned not to trust anyone… things still progressed in a surprising manor indeed. For example, we all knew that young Julian was indeed hiding something… and when we initially find out what you think that’s the story summed up, but then at the end… it turns again into something completely different. It was this area of the book that had me gripped. Cogs would turn in one direction only to stop and reverse on themselves. It was… exciting.
The characters were intriguing as well… for the most part. Scarlett was… average… she started off as typical protective and closed off character and whilst she definitely grew in personality and courage I still found myself not particularly bothered by her by the end of the book but she was ok. Her love and dedication towards her sister was nice… but sometimes too over bearing. She definitely seemed to be a complete contrast of her sister, Tella. And whilst we didn’t get a whole bunch of Tella during the middle of the story itself… I must say, by the end, I was impressed by her. When things got explained and the ‘real’ puzzle pieces started forming I actually got a slightly downplayed Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom) vibe from her. She was a lot smarter than I think most of us would have given her credit for towards the start of the book. And it turns out that whilst Scarlett didn’t think Tella loved her as dearly as she did her… she was wrong. Because at the end of the day she believed in Scarlett from day one… believed in their love and their bond. Something that a lot of siblings would strive towards.
I loved the ending of this book, I loved when everything got explained because it made so much sense and came to such a wonderful conclusion… yet it still left enough open for the next book to play out. Who the Caraval master Legend really is? What bargain did Tella still have to fulfill for him? What part do the sisters mother have to play in all this? Will her disappearance be explained? And I want to know where Scarlett and Julian go from here… with the discovery of Julian’s relationship to Legend it’ll be interesting to see how the four of them, Scarlett, Julian, Tella and Legend all intertwine… because there was definitely something between the younger sister Tella and the Caraval master at the end of this book… and I want to know if that will develop into anything.
To sum up… this book did up end being a charming read. It had its magical moments indeed and despite main character Scarlett going through a rather emotional roller coaster throughout I’m glad it ended on a more positive note. But there are enough questions unanswered that it does leave you wondering just what will happen next? Because, as we were warned from the start, the Caraval is only a game… until you invest just a little two much…
Would I suggest this book to other bookworms? If you like your magic mixed with intensity and some confusion then yes indeed!
Am I completely in love with this book? The last half gripped me so so so much!
Will I be reading the next book in the series? Yes! Too many questions need answering!!
[I rate this book 3.5/5 stars]