Author: Stephanie Garber
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 31st January 2017
Pages: 402, hardback
Genre: young adult, fantasy, romance
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.
I bought Caraval last month, after hearing so much about it online. I pretty much only buy paperbacks most of the time, so to me it felt like A BIG DEAL. I read a sample of the book online, and then went to two separate Waterstones in an attempt to find a copy with a completely pristine jacket (the one I ended up buying does have a small tear at the top, but I’m sure I’ll live). I’m really glad I went to the trouble, as I know now I will be rereading Caraval a lot in the future.
Everything about this book pleased me. It was just one of those books that made me feel super satisfied while I was reading it in a way that is probably unnecessary, but never mind. Like ‘look at me, reading my book that has a really aesthetic cover and it’s a hardback and can open it all the way without bending the spine oo-la-la’ (please tell me someone knows what I’m talking about). Basically, even on just a superficial level, this book had me hooked.
I adored the writing style, and the setting of the book. I find it quite hard to explain, as although this story is high fantasy, the world isn’t explored in that much depth (something I didn’t mind, but I would be curious to find out more in the second book). However, I absolutely loved the fact that the story revolved around this one small part of the world where Caraval took place. The writing, as well, was simply gorgeous and utterly addictive; I actually went and checked that Caraval is Stephanie Garber’s debut novel, because I could barely believe that she managed create such a magical book first time (also, I want more books from her dammit!).
This book also has that kinda forbidden, very angsty, totally a-bad-idea romance going on. And I love it. I live for those sorts of romances, and I haven’t read one in so long. So yes, I loved Julian, and I thought his character development throughout the novel was excellent. Also, I thought that Scarlett and Tella’s relationship was wonderful. There are not many books in YA that show sibling relationships as strong as this one; I loved how fiercely they cared for each other, and how determined Scarlett was throughout the book to save Tella. Despite all the other events of the book, Tella remained her priority, and this was something I loved to read.
This book is unlike any other fantasy stories I’ve read, although I will say that if you are a fan of Marissa Meyer, this book is definitely for you. It was magical from start to finish, and the sequel (which is apparently to be from Tella’s point of view) simply cannot come soon enough!