Spoiler-Free Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Date Started: 26/7/2017
Date Finished: 27/7/2017
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.
I'm going to be quite honest and say that when I picked this up, I didn't actually know a thing about it. I only brought it as Tesco was doing a special edition for quite a good price (and I just loved the cover anyway) and also the fact that it was getting hyped by everyone everywhere. Oh, and I knew that it had something to do with a circus because of the circus tent on the cover. As you can see it doesn't really take much for me to buy a book.
I have included the synopsis above, but basically the book features two sisters, Scarlett and Tella Dragna. They live on a small island with their abusive father, who is quite a powerful man. Ever since they were children, Scarlett and Tella have been obsessed with Caraval and the master of it all, Legend. Scarlett wrote many letters as a child to Legend, begging him to come to their island and invite Scarlett and Tella to Caraval.
Both sisters are older now and Scarlett (the more sensible sister) is having an arranged marriage to some Count, that her father is hiding information about from her. One day Scarlett gets a response from the Count with three tickets to Caraval; one each for Tella and Scarlett as well as the Count. However, in order to go to Caraval they need to escape the island and they need to do it without their father knowing. From then on, the adventure begins.
One thing I want to say about this book is just how complex it is. I can't really get my head around how someone can think of all the small details and crossovers that are in this book and put it all together and make it make sense. It was full of twists and turns and I ended up really loving it.
It starts off quite vague and you sort of have to keep reading and piece it all together. Though, some bits are a bit too vague and there are details you don't get to know (mainly surrounding the world they live in) which are just covered up with descriptions. I'm hoping that in the sequel we get to see a bit more world-building, as I would really love to find out more.
The sisters are different, Tella is much more outgoing and doesn't want to let anything stop her meanwhile Scarlett obeys the rules and will do anything to prevent her father beating them. The contrast is more noticeable at other points in the story and you get to see how they react in different situations and that they really are quite different. Though one thing between the two of them that is common is their love for each other and how they will do anything to protect each other and we see this at the start when the father loses his temper.
The event Caraval was a lot different to what I was expecting. I thought it was just going to be like a circus, meanwhile it's a lot more complex. There are rules repeated throughout and it works more like a competition. One thing that is repeated throughout is that You must remember that it's all a game. Seems like a simple thing but the importance this rule brings later on in the story is huge and you need to remember it while you read. Another thing that is repeated a lot is how people need to watch out and not get swept away into the world of Caraval as it's enough to drive people crazy as it has done in the past.
It was easy to relate to the characters, especially Scarlett and as I carried on reading I realised that I was starting to really care for her and just wanted everything to work out right.
As I said above, there are many twists and turns throughout this book. During many scenes (especially towards the end) I was sat on the edge of my seat and whizzing through the pages like my life depended on it. Some of the surprises I expected. but there was many other bigger ones that I didn't expect.
One of the things that did let the book down for me was the build up towards the ending. I felt it was a bit rushed and I got quite confused. I managed to sort everything out eventually, but then I didn't really understand how certain people reacted the way that they did to the ending (trying not to spoil) and it was like nothing had happened. That probably didn't make any sense, but I'm trying not to spoil people. If you've read it you might be able to figure out what I meant(?).
Overall, I did really enjoy Caraval and getting sucked into such a different and complex world. I'm really looking forward to finding out where the story goes in the sequel and I'm also hoping for a bit more world-building as well as other details.
Rate - 4.5/5
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27883214-caraval?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Caraval/9781473629141
Hi! I see you've stumbled across my blog.