Book Review: Caraval

Posted September 11th, 2017 by in book review / 0 comments

Book Review: CaravalTitle: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 2017-01-31
Format: eBook
Pages: 416
Source: Library
Genres: circus freakshow carnival, Contemporary, fiction, magic, young adult
View Book At Goodreads
The instant New York Times bestseller! #1 IndieNext Pick! Entertainment Weekly Must List!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 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.Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.“The Hunger Games meets The Night Circus. Grade: A-.” —Entertainment Weekly“Impressive, original, wondrous.” —USA Today“Spellbinding.” —US Weekly“Magnificent.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review“I lost myself in this world.” —Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes“Beautifully written.” —Renée Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn“Shimmers with magic.” —Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner’s Curse“Darkly enchanting.” —Kiersten White, author of And I Darken“Decadent.” —Roshani Chokshi, author of The Star-Touched Queen“Like stepping into a living dream.” —Stacey Lee, author of Outrun the Moon“Destined to capture imaginations.” —Kirkus Reviews“Ideal for fans of The Night Circus, Stardust, and The Hunger Games.” —School Library Journal

I adore stories about circus, fete’s and carnivals. There’s just something magical about those sorts of places that I think connects with your inner child and to that idea of running away to the circus. Of course, the only downside for me is clowns. I am terrified of clowns and have been since I was a baby. Thankfully there were no clowns to be found in Caraval.

Caraval has been compared to The Night Circus – I can see why, but I think also if you didn’t really like the Night Circus, you will still enjoy Caraval because whilst there are a few similar things they aren’t really all that similar either.

The actual world of Caraval is rather interesting, and beautifully described. Stephanie Garber has a beautiful grasp of prose and it was a delight to read the descriptions of the world she has created within Caraval. Time is used differently in Caraval – the game is played during the evening rather than the daytime, and you have to be inside by dawn or you’re stuck outside until dusk which is made to sound like a terrible thing.

It’s hard to do a review to Caraval without giving a lot of it away, so I am just going to say that after a slowish start, the pace does get a bit faster as you begin to learn more things about how Caraval works and try to determine who is lying and who is telling you the truth, which is very difficult in a world full of players who are pretending to be half a dozen things and people at once.

Scarlett and Tella have an interesting relationship. Scarlett underestimates Tella’s own intelligence because she is really blinded by keeping Tella safe from their father (who is a class A bastard to his daughters and everyone else as well) because she is the older sister and therefore she needs to protect her sister. Tella is a lot more intelligent and cunning than her sister gives her credit for. I can’t say too much as it will give away a big portion of the ending, but suffice to say that Tella is the reason for several events that occurred in the book, either directly or indirectly.

There were a few things about Caraval that annoyed me. Scarlett’s constant whinging about being back in time for her wedding to a Count she’s never met (mostly because her father is a gigantic arsehole) as if it’s the only way she can leave her father’s cruelty behind, and how much she loves her sister and her (Scarlett) getting married is the only way for Tella to also be safe from her father, even if being stuck in some manor/fortress/whatever Counts live in is the last thing her sister wants. Scarlett is also rather ungrateful for the first half of the book, even though Julian didn’t have to go out on a limb for her and help her out as much as he did.

I certainly enjoyed Caraval and will be interested to see what happen in book 2 after the cliff-hanger ending in this one.

4 Stars

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