Caraval by Stephanie Garber is the first book in The Caraval series. I had this book pop up in my recommendations in various places and the reviews were high so I was intrigued. The cover art and the landscape of a magical circus drew me in and I had to read this book. Like always, I will not have any spoilers for Caraval.
Scarlett Dragna has never left her island home where she lives with her sister, Donatella, and their cruel and high ranking father. With the marriage her father has arranged for her, Scarlett believes her dream of attending Caraval, a once a year fantastical show where the audience gets to participate, are dashed.
However, Scarlett finally receives her long awaited invitation. Tella, along with a scoundrel of a sailor, sweep Scarlett away to the show. However, the moment they arrive, Tella is stolen away by the magical host, Legend. It just so happens that this Caraval revolves around Tella: whoever finds her first wins the game.
Now with Scarlett playing the game, she has been told that whatever happens during Caraval is all a performance. However, Scarlett becomes entangled in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. In order to save her sister from disappearing forever, Scarlett must find Tella before the end of the fifth night of the game regardless of Caraval being real or not.
So, it’s been one month from when I finished reading Caraval and writing this review. There are many reasons for this. First there’s my mental health and I just had to step away from being on the computer all the time. Second, life got super busy and I couldn’t help but keep reading without writing reviews immediately afterwards. Therefore this review will not be as detailed as reviews I’ve previously posted. I will have this paragraph at the beginning of the reviews that weren’t written immediately after finishing them.
There’s four prominent characters in Caraval. First, the Dragna sisters, Scarlett and Tella, but Scarlett is our narrator and Tella is only in a small portion of the story. From the little we experience of Tella, she’s a bold and willful girl that lives for risk and adventure. Scarlett on the other hand is the older, more cautious and worrisome sister. This causes Scarlett to struggle with the game, what to believe, and second guesses herself. Now this is where Julian and Dante come in. Dante pops into the story every now and then, but he’s dark, mysterious, and not a gentleman. Julian on the other hand comes and goes frequently from Scarlett’s side. Despite not always being there, Julian is constantly looking out for, helping, and sweeping Scarlett off her feet. They are amazing characters and I enjoy all of them.
Now Caraval, the game, is an interesting idea. I love how it’s a giant magical carnival that players explore and solve clues to win a prize. Before the game starts, players are told that everything in the game is a performance and not to get swept up in the magic. The way that the magic works is to either help or hinder players each night, and the performers push the game along. Now a part of the game I enjoy is the currency. Money holds no value in Caraval, and everything is bought with secrets, memories, bargains, or even time. This adds an interesting element to the game and increase the risks one takes to win.
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
“She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”
“Every touch created colors she had never seen. Colors as soft as velvet and as sharp as sparks that turned into stars.”
“He’d heard every person gets one impossible wish—just one—if the person wants something more than anything, and they can find a bit of magic to help them along.”
“There’s more to life than staying safe.”
Star Rating: /5
Add it to Your List: Add to your Goodreads
Snag a Copy: I will always suggest getting the hard cover, but buy in any format on Amazon
Interested in other books that I’ve read? Check out my other book reviews here!