Caraval (Caraval, #1) – Stephanie Garber

caraval cover

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SYNOPSIS: 

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. 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.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

REVIEW (Spoiler Free):

“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 to magic in this world.”

What a magical and enchanting world! When I received Caraval in my February 2017 “Run Away With The Circus” Owl Crate box I was thrilled! It was very high on my anticipated reads list. Caraval did not let me down at all! It grabbed my attention from the very beginning.

Caraval is a story of family, love, magic, and a mysterious quest. I loved following Scarlett on her journey and discovering clues and obstacles with her. I felt like I was right there with her in the game of Caraval.

Caraval is pure magic. Stephanie Garber does an exceptional job of building a stunning world. The writing is beautiful and lyrical. I was absolutely captivated. The game of Caraval is mystical, mysterious, and whimsical. At the beginning of the game, Scarlett is advised that Caraval is a performance and to be careful to not get too swept away. It was so difficult to remember that Caraval is just a game. Garber does an excellent job of creating an environment where the reader is unable to determine what is real and what isn’t. The twists were very clever and unexpected. I was holding my breath at each twist and turn.  My theories about Legend and the game changed multiple times while reading. It kept me on my toes throughout the entire story.

At the heart of Caraval is Scarlett’s relationship with her sister, Donatella (Tella). The have a beautiful relationship and have always protected each other from their abusive father. The truly love and care for one another. However, Scarlett and Tella are opposites. Scarlett craves stability and safety, but Tella is a dreamer and desires adventure. At times, both characters are difficult to like. Scarlett is naive and too trusting. She always puts Tella’s well-being before her own, and Tella seems to take advantage of this. Tella does have good intentions, but her methods are difficult to understand. I will not say any more to avoid spoilers!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

  • Caraval is a beautiful, whimsical, and sensory world filled with magic, adventure, quests, and love.
  • All of the characters are flawed, but I loved going on this adventure with them. I can’t wait to learn more about their lives and worlds outside of the game.
  • Caraval ends on a cliffhanger and  I have so many questions! I am so excited to find out what happens next.
  • I cannot wait for the sequel, Legendary, to discover more about the game of Caraval and its master, Legend.

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