Author: Stephanie Garber
Published: January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books
Genre: YA, Fantasy
My Rating: 5/5 stars
“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
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.
Caraval is a book that I built up so much in my head. So much so, that I offered Stephanie Garber my first born child for an ARC (without success), but ultimately was blessed by a fellow Twitter user lending me a copy to read. With as much hype as I put on this book, I could have been either thoroughly disappointed or beyond pleased after reading it.
I’m so happy to say that I was completely blown away by Caraval.
Scarlett is a wonderful main character. She’s so dynamic, and Garber does a wonderful job of showing her many layers. Scarlett is protective of her sister, equally fearful and hopeful of her future, and strong-willed but a hopeless romantic at times. It’s so easy to relate to a character who has to fight with her wants, needs, and desires and decide what is important in life.
Garber takes the dynamics of Scarlett and thrusts her into a magical and terrifying world. Caraval was an experience that I both wanted to run into and also run from, and I think that is the complete point of the Caraval preformance. So often in books, magic is portrayed as powerful and heroic, but Garber created in Caraval a world of tempting magic that always comes at a price.
As wonderful as the world of Caraval and it’s characters are, what really sets this book apart is the beautiful and creative writing of Stephanie Garber.
Garber has given Scarlett a way of mixing emotions and sights with colors and smells. Her senses mix and mingle to create something so unique and beautiful, that I found myself writing quote after quote down. Here are my favorites:
“It was the kind of night where she could smell the moon, thick candle wax dancing with the salty sent of the ocean, full and glowing.”
“She could see the sting of her rejection in shades of stormy blue, ghosting over his heart like a sad morning mist.”
“She remembered thinking falling for him would be like falling in love with darkness, but now she imagined he was more like a starry night: the constellations were always there, constant, magnificent guides against the ever-present black.”
Isn’t that just lovely? The writing was more than well done, it was exceptional, whimsical, and inspiring. This whole book is full of gorgeous quotes and beautiful imagery.
Usually I can come up with a critique or two for books that I love, but I honestly can’t even make up something that I didn’t enjoy about Caraval. It was adventurous, lovely, thrilling, terrifying, and magical all at the same time. It was absolutely stunning and I don’t regret for a moment begging on Twitter for this book.
Stephanie Garber surprised me as much as Victoria Schwab did when I picked up the Shades of Magic series. Although the books aren’t in the least similar, they gave me the same feeling of discovering a true gem that I will never stop loving or recommending. Caraval blew all of my expectations out of the water.
I think its easy to tell that I recommend this book. Like really recommend it. Don’t even wait for it to come out, just go ahead and pre-order it now, because it’s worth it!
Guest review contributed by Fictional Living. Ashley provides reviews, recommendations, and soon to include more bookish writing. Also coming up are features of short story fiction writers once a week for a new blog series.