Author: Stephanie Garber
Series Status: Series
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
(This review contains spoilers).
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 organiser, 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.
Caraval. This book promised so much. A magical adventure. A whirlwind mystery. An enchanting story. Critics have called it ‘spellbinding’, ‘mesmerising’ and ‘enchanting’. It had so much potential. Yet for me, it did not tick all of the above boxes. In fact, I feel as though I read a completely different book to these critics. That being said the book does have it’s redeeming qualities, enough so that I gave it 3.5 stars out of five stars.
It’s undeniable that Stephanie Garber does have a way of writing that draws you into the story. This book was a very quick and easy read, I managed to finish it in about a day and a half. Right from the beginning, the book takes off and from there it is jam packed with things going on making it fast paced. Garber manages to create a beautiful world full of colour and magic that’s easy to imagine with her descriptive and embellished writing. Due to this, it is easy to become immersed in this world.
In the most part, the characters are likeable but I didn’t particularly love any of them. The main character Scarlett was probably the most likeable. From the beginning, you can tell she has great love and loyalty for her sister. I found it easy to connect with her on this level as I have a sister myself and could understand her thought processes majority of the time. That being said I did find myself becoming annoyed with her at times throughout the book when she couldn’t figure out some of the clues. Seriously, some of them were so easy I just wanted to shout and shake her shoulders!
On the other hand, I had many issues with this book throughout. Firstly, at times I found the book a bit wishy-washy, especially towards the end. There were so many lies being told that it led to a lot of confusion. I understand that the lies were part of the game and the point of them was to reinforce the idea that nothing was real but I feel as though it lacked the effect it meant to have and instead ended up taking away from the book. Another issue I had was with Julian. At first, I liked his character, I grew to really like him throughout the book but then to find out he was just a performer ruined everything. I understand that his feelings for Scarlett were true but after we found out the truth I just couldn’t get past all the lies. Lastly, the big issue that led me to only giving Caraval 3.5 stars instead of five was the ending as a whole. I was disappointed, to say the least. To me, it seemed everything was tied up in a rush with huge paragraphs of just explanations after explanations. I felt like I was reading a summary of the book. The ending definitely seemed to lack in comparison to the rest of the book.
All in all, this book was an entertaining read but by far from perfect. I believe this book is the first in a series, so whether I’ll pick up the next book when it comes out, who knows. I also read that Fox had bought the rights to the movie so hopefully, they’ll be able to make it into a much better movie. If you’ve read this book, what did you think about it?
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,
Caitlin Lauren Grace x