Caraval Review

Thursday, 9 February 2017


Rating: 5/5
Source: Bought from Amazon

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters' long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show's mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

I want to start this review by judging a book by it's cover. I know you aren't supposed to do that, but if there was ever a book cover that accurately represented the beauty of the story within, it's Caraval.

The format of the book beyond the cover is equally beautiful, the opening pages include an illustrated map of the world you're about to discover and the first chapter is made up of handwritten letters that Scarlett, the main protagonist has written to the Master of Caraval in hopes of receiving tickets to see the players with her sister Tella.

I say players as Caraval is game, it's important to remember that everything that's going on in the book is a performance, I was continuously forgetting this because it doesn't make it Caraval any less dangerous. This isn't one of those books where you'll be screaming for the characters to see what is going on right in front of them, you feel as confused and lost as the other players.

Even with this dangerous edge to the world the characters are navigating through. I prefer books with a bit more grit and bite and Caraval has some dark themes contained within its fantasy world, which doesn't take anything away from the powerful  and magical themes of the book, I was on the edge of suspense the whole time while still being able to enjoy the childlike wonderment surrounding Carval.

You think you know where the story is going for a character in Caraval, and maybe you do but for most people, myself included, you'll actually have no idea what is going on and will be pleasantly surprised when your assumptions and guesses turn out to be wrong.

My favourite character by far was Julian, as much as I love Scarlett there was just something about Julian and as his relationship with Scarlett grew I continued to grow more attached to him still. He's bold but not overly so like so many male characters in YA novels, he comes across as funny instead of cocky and it was really refreshing to have a story that built up multiple characters instead of just focussing on the main protagonist.

I loved every single twist and turn this book took and I believe Stephanie Garber is one of the strongest fantasy authors out there after reading this book. I can definitely see why Caraval has been optioned for a film, I would love to see the world of Caraval brought to life. Even though Caravl has only just come out and I'm already impatiently awaiting the sequel (and now a film), hopefully it won't be a long wait for this one.

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