Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: review copy in exchange for an honest review
Add to Goodreads shelf | Buy from Waterstones | Buy from Amazon | Buy from Wordery
Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber was one of my most anticipated books of the year and even having the high expectations that I did, it still managed to surpass them. I haven’t read anything like it before. (I’ve seen some others say that it’s perfect for fans of The Night Circus, and from what I’ve read about TNC I’d agree but I haven’t actually read the book yet. If it’s anything like Caraval, count me in!)
So the story is told from the perspective of Scarlett who has been sending letters to the Caraval mastermind, Legend, for years asking him to bring his infamous show to the island she lives on with her father and sister. For years and years she’d been sending out these letters and gained no responses at all. That is, until she’s about to get married to this guy she hasn’t met and so sends a letter to Legend asking him not to come. She finally receives a response along with two tickets in the mail.
Caraval was such a rich, imaginative and adventurous read. I read it in a single sitting and more or less devoured Stephanie Garber’s writing which was absolutely wonderful. The characters were all complex and there was such mystery around everything that I found myself simultaneously rushing towards the end – so I could reach the ‘big reveal’ – and trying to pace myself so I wouldn’t finish it too quickly. Clearly, the former won.
Caraval is so full of mystery and detailed world-building that I wasn’t able to put it down at all. I spent most of the evening reading and finished it at around 2am, and then just lay there thinking about everything. This book summed up in one word would be unforgettable. As I’m writing this review, it’s been months since I’ve read it and still, I continue to think about the story and that mind-blowing ending. And Legend. And top hats.
I’m going to take a moment now to just fangirl over the characters in this book. So, we have Legend who I’ve already mentioned – the Caraval mastermind who’s complex and comes across as slightly dark throughout the story and is just one of those characters that you instantly love (or love to hate). There’s Scarlett and her sister Tella. At first, Tella did annoy me a little because she came cross as a spoiled brat who didn’t care much for her sister. But as the story continued, she grew on me and I grew to admire their relationship as sisters and how realistic it was. Then we have Julian. Sweet. charismatic, mysterious Julian (DIBS!). I could go on and on about how much I adore Julian and how I appreciate that he wasn’t just there as a love interest but had his own story as well but you’ll have to read to find out what I mean.
Overall, Caraval is as stunning inside as it is outside, which isn’t an easy task considering there are four absolutely stunning covers (below). Stephanie Garber’s writing is enchanting and pulls the reader into a world of mystery and intrigue, where you can trust nothing, not even your own instincts. You wont be able to tear your eyes away for fear of missing even a moment of this extraordinary adventure.
I know I usually pick a favourite quote at the end of my review, and I have SO many favourite quotes from Caraval, but since I read an ARC I can’t actually quote it yet…
|image from Chapter5Books|