Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: Caraval

Title: Caraval (Caraval #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Young Adult | Magic
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Source: BEA
Format: ARC

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
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 (goodreads).

Caraval was full of magic and whimsy, a favorite for any fantasy love!
Plot: Caraval is one of those books where no matter how many times you read the synopsis, you don't quite grasp what magic lives in this book. 

Scarlett and her sister are physically and emotionally tormented by their father. Scarlett has always dreamed of running away from this situation by attending the Caraval games with her beloved younger sister. Days before Scarlett is to be married to a faraway count, she receives a personal invitation to the Caraval games after years of one-sided correspondence. From her first steps onto the magical island, Scarlett understands that not everything is what it seems, and she is dropped into a deadly game. 

Garber's writing was nothing short of beautiful and I loved all of the clever plot twists that she threw in that kept me up all night. The pacing in Caraval revealed just enough information about this mystical world, but somewhere in the last 100 pages, this book lost its steam with me. Once it was obvious what direction Caraval was heading in, I was no longer as enchanted. This was probably because I had so many theories about the magic of Caraval that nothing could live up to those expectations. Still, this novel wrapped up nicely with enough mystery to have me immediately adding the second novel to my TBR. 

Characters: Caraval was very much a story of sisterly love and I loved Scarlett's dedication to her sister. There was such a contrast between Scarlett and Tella and I found myself drawn to Scarlett. She was a character that all the eldest children can relate to: she was mature, a worrier, and would do anything to protect her sister. I enjoyed her growth in Caraval and how she discovered her own needs. To help Scarlett in the Caraval games, we have Julian. I loved Julian immediately because he was the smirky mysterious bad boy who is equal parts infuriating and alluring. 

Worldbuilding: Stephanie Garber wrote this fantasy world effortlessly. She was able to create a fleshed-out world without having to resort to any info-dumping. I was actually really impressed by how much information that Garber could include without ever taking the reader out of the world. I look forward to revisiting Caraval in future installments and learn more about its people and history.

Short N Sweet: Caraval carries a sense of magic from the very first page until the last.


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