Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Synopsis: 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.
I read so many amazing reviews for this book when it first came out and the premise intrigued me; a mixture of magic, sisterly love and not knowing what was real? It just sounded fascinating! Even though it has taken me nearly a year to read, I am so glad that I did!
Caraval follows Scarlett who, despite trying to be the good girl who always follows the rules and does as she is told, would do literally anything for her sister, and I mean literally anything. At the beginning of the book, she is shown to be more reserved, trying to keep Tella, her sister, out of trouble. Tella is the complete opposite of Scarlett, she’s a wild spirit who does whatever she wants.
The development of both Scarlett and Tella are really well written. The characters in this book are very complex and by the end, you see them completely differently and understand their actions throughout. Scarlett just wants to protect her sister from their abusive father, and everything she does in the game is for her sister. This isn’t a book about romance, it’s about sisterly love and I think that is really refreshing to read about because even though you hardly see Tella in this book, you see that she would also do anything to protect her sister.
Julian is an interesting character. He is portrayed as untrustworthy and even outright tells Scarlett not to trust him. Everything he does is confusing; all his actions don’t really make sense until the end where all the secrets are revealed. Throughout the whole book, I didn’t trust him, even when he was showing his softer side, there was just something about his character that made me think he was completely shady, and when you find out his backstory, in the end, it all makes sense.
The whole world of Caraval is magical and whimsical whilst being dark and sinister at the same time. The tagline is ‘Remember it’s only a game’ and I think that perfectly sums up the whole book. Multiple times Scarlett is told that not everything she sees and experiences during the game is real. I must admit, I did find it a little confusing at first, but the more I read the more I got completely swept up in the world! Even I struggled to remember that it’s only a game and got totally sucked in by all the tricks. I know, that if I ever went to Caraval I would have to just watch rather than play because all the tricks and the magic of the game would drive me mad!
The world is so complex and vast, but all the questions you have throughout the book are answered in one way or another. The epilogue made me so excited for the next book in the series. I think it will be really interesting to get a story from Tella’s point of view and find out what happened to their mother.
Overall I loved this book and would highly recommend it, especially to fans of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The magical world of Caraval completely swept me away and I think that for a novel to be able to do that, especially a debut novel, is an amazing thing and exactly what a good fantasy novel should do.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5