Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
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.
This book was interesting from the get go, and the plot never slowed down. The whole idea behind a magical carnival was awesome, since I find books that revolve around carnivals to be fascinating. Although, I haven’t read any other carnival books, so my opinion might change in the future.
The main character, Scarlett, was always second guessing herself, and was afraid to break rules. This was understandable, given her horrible home life. However, I found Scarlett likable, and didn’t mind her more annoying traits. I could, however, see how some people wouldn’t be a fan of her. Her sister, Tella, on the other hand, was a bit reckless and immature. Still I understood her desire to want a better life for herself and her sister. I think she was a lot stronger and smarter than the book actually showed.
The book kept you guessing at every turn, and you never knew who to trust. At one point, I thought I had everything figured out. But then something happens, and now I have know idea what to expect next. I am generally more inclined to like books when the plot isn’t so predictable, which I feel is true of most readers.
The world building was outstanding. The author made Caraval come to live, and made me feel like I was playing the game along with the characters. The author didn’t spend a lot of time describing this magic carnival, but the little details told about the world were enough to make me wish it was real.
I found the book to have an underlying sisterhood/relationship theme, but it was more of a background element. The book was dark and whimsical, and I think the touch of whimsy made the book not feel so long. The story also strives to prove that everyone has an agenda, and that everything comes with a price.
“Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether.”
Control, and being controlled, were a big part of the book. It seemed most people were out to control Scarlett – even Tella. I didn’t like how Tella tried to get Scarlett to do things she was against, because she wanted to protect her sister. Sure, Tella was doing it out of love. Still, it felt underhanded. By the end, I felt pretty bad for Scarlett. And speaking of the ending, there was a minor cliffhanger that has me intrigued. I’m curious to see what comes next!
Despite all the good things I had to say about the story, it didn’t quite make it to 5 stars. I will say that Julian, the love interest, was a highlight of the book, because he was very swoon-worthy.
There are a few trigger warning for the book, but I wouldn’t worry too much about them. First and foremost, this is a fantasy book so it doesn’t really focus on heavy topics. However, you can visit the books page on Book Trigger Warnings if you would like. Don’t forget to give my blog a follow, because it makes me smile.
Until The Next Chapter,