Caraval by Stephanie Garber
“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.”
Scarlett and Tella are two sisters trapped under the iron fist of their powerful, abusive father on the small island of Trisda, with Scarlett’s seemingly only escape from the cruelty being through an arranged marriage. However, this all changes when the two sisters receive invitations to partake in Caraval, the annual week-long performance in which the audience participates in the show. With the help of Julien, a young sailor, Scarlett and Tella are secretly taken to the show.
However, things are not all as they first appeared to be as Tella disappears at the start of the game. Scarlett needs to work her way through the game to find her sister and get back to Trisda before her arranged marriage in a few days’ time. Caraval is a place of wonder and magic, where it is easy for participants to lose their way, and possibly themselves.
Created by the mysterious, often devious Legend, what starts off as a game becomes a dangerous set of challenges that Scarlett is forced to overcome. Challenges that would change her in more ways than one.
Scarlett’s character underwent a huge change throughout the book, although her true aim always stayed the same. What she wanted most was to keep her impulsive younger sister Tella safe. Whether that was from her father or from the unfolding dangers of Caraval, the love that the two sisters had for each other was immense. Scarlett’s development was well-written and gradual as she began to let go of her fears and her past. I grew to love Scarlett’s character and her determination and resilience to find her sister.
Garber has a beautiful writing style, similar to that of Erin Morgenstern’s in The Night Circus when she described the wonders within Caraval. It was very easy to imagine what the settings were like, making it easier to escape into the book. I often found myself losing myself in the book and suddenly finishing a large section of it. Her writing keeps the readers on their toes with surprises and twists, and the mystery of who Scarlett and the readers should trust and who has been lying the whole time.
Overall, I loved Caraval and the magic behind it. The writing style was amazing and intense with the general idea of not everything being as it seems. I gave it 5 stars!
Guest review contributed by iamLindsayB, a blog dedicated to books, writing, and the occasional passing thought. She also tries her hand at writing short stories using weird prompts.