Remember, it’s only a game…
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 Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
Caraval, the magical game that promises adventure, deception, and twist after twist. I couldn’t put this book down! I’ll be honest, going into this book, I didn’t have any expectations. While the synopsis sounded interesting enough, I was slightly put off with the idea that this would involve a carnival setting. Maybe I was just pulling that from how similar it sounded to the title and maybe it was supposed to but I didn’t get vibe AT ALL; which is good because clowns terrify me and I don’t want to even read about them.
This book had me questioning every person and every scene that happened just like Scarlett was. In the beginning of the game the players are reminded that nothing is real but its hard not to believe things happening right before you. Caraval had a lot of “twist” moments and I honestly didn’t see any of them coming which really added to my enjoyment of this book.
Things I liked:
Scarlett Dragna: I thoroughly enjoyed her character development. In the beginning, she was timid, scared and cautioned on the safe side. Throughout the games, she had to make various decisions and at first, she withdrew, not wanting to take the risk. As we follow her journey she thinks more about how her impulsive sister would act which helped her see that sometimes in life, you need to take the risk to get what you want. The experience of this game gave her the courage to overcome her fears and to live a life that is truly hers.
Julian: Yes, I need more Julian. He’s the typical bad boy who has his secrets, which are slowly revealed and like Scarlett, we have to decide if he can be trusted or not. He may have his faults but he definitely has his redeeming qualities as well. Of course, he’s handsome, what love interest isn’t going to be described so; he’s also witty, charming, and daring.
Action: I feel as though the characters were always on the move. Between finding clues, exploring the tunnels, and looking for Tella, this novel was faced paced and kept me on edge. Every turn of the page they got closer and yet a new obstacle would appear that added another layer to this game that was “not real.”
Twists: Oh how this book messed with my mind! I would think I had everything figured out and then something new would be revealed that put a giant hole through my prediction. That ending had me speechless because not even in my right mind could I have predicted the turn of events.
World Building: When Scarlett and Julian step onto the island its like they’re falling down the rabbit hole. Shops with time traveling clocks, houses that expand on the inside, and tents where time moves differently. Everything felt mystical and alluring; you wanted to explore every crevice and see what hidden doors you could find.
Things that were Meh:
Writing: Stephanie Garber’s writing is descriptive and alluring, however, I didn’t understand why Scarlett is able to see her emotions’ colors. “It would have been a mistake to kiss him, yet she felts…. Disappointed. It came in cool shades of forget-me-not blue, which wrapped around her like evening fog” The color describing with emotions just kind of bothered me because it didn’t make sense. This doesn’t help her in any way nor does anyone else have this ability so why include it?
Magic: I’m not sure the magic aspect of the story was fully explained, it’s almost as if there isn’t really any magic and its more an illusion to the players. The clothing that the players wear would change depending on their moods and there were potions and elixirs however I didn’t understand why the magic only stayed with Legend and his performers. As soon as the players left the island so did the magic.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, especially since I was on the fence about reading it. There’s a good reason this book has been hyped up and I’m very excited to continue reading the rest of this series. I hope to learn more about Tella and see her development as a character. I also need more Julian because he currently has my heart.
Have you read Caraval? I would love to hear your thoughts!