Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books (31st Jan 2017)
Series: Caraval #1
Format/Source: International Edition Paperback (received a copy for review from Macmillan USA International & Pansing Malaysia)
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
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
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.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber has to be one of the most anticipated books of the book community since the author shared the cover of her book last year – at around that time, Caraval was already under my radar – so you can understand my excitement when I finally got the chance to read it!
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
Marketed as a book that would appeal to readers who enjoyed The Night Circus, Stephanie Garber’s debut novel focuses on two sisters, Scarlett who is the protagonist and central character of Caraval, and Donatella, the sister who is constantly dreaming of a life out of their island. They live under the iron fist of their father, an abusive governor. When a chance to participate in Caraval, a mysterious game where the line between reality and make-believe blurs, the sisters escape to join, in hopes of winning the prize of the game: a wish.
“She remembered thinking falling for him would be like falling in love with darkness, but now she imagined he was more like a starry night: the constellations were always there, constant, magnificent guides against the ever-present black.”
Before going into the book, I admit, I had high expectations because Caraval is probably one of the books in 2017 that has been getting a lot of hype since ARCs were sent out to bloggers. I did try to lower my expectations but I really wanted to like Caraval. And bless the holy hams, I did. I really liked it, especially in terms of its writing, world building and characters.
A few of my friends didn’t like Scarlett while they were reading Caraval but I didn’t really have an issue with her. Given the circumstances, I understand why she was overprotective towards Donatella, but it was fine with me. If anything, I have several issues with Julian. I mean, how can someone be so hot? God, from his rugged sailorman thing going on to his swoonworthy charm, why can’t I have him all to myself? If you’ve seen my Goodreads updates, you’d know that I might have developed a crush on Julian, granted, you would too, I assure you. I envy you, Scarlett.
“She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”
The thing about Caraval is that you can’t overthink things. Well, that’s what Scarlett is for. (LOL) But I would suggest that you just go with the flow of the story. Immerse yourself in Stephanie Garber’s wonderful writing and allow yourself to be lost in a world where the line between reality and Caraval is blurred.
Let’s get to the writing bit: Stephanie Garber employed imageries and metaphoric descriptions drawn from her characters’ nuances of thought and personal experiences as a storytelling device in the book and I was hugely impressed by this. Though it might be an acquired taste for readers, for me, I liked it.
“Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.”
The mystery and grandeur of Caraval really intrigued me because like Scarlett, I was kept in the dark and I didn’t know what to expect. That was probably one of the things that hooked my attention. I wanted to find out what Caraval was and how the book ends. The clever twists in between were well-put but I might have to comment on the plot progression because I found it rather chaotic at parts. It wasn’t messy but I just thought it was all over the place at some point.
“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
Caraval is definitely an incredible book with a few flaws but ultimately, it was a wonderful and different reading experience because it’s got a fantastic premise, fabulous writing and an ending that will leave you pining for more. Even though I didn’t like it as much as I hoped, it was a solid debut by Stephanie Garber. Caraval is haunting, mysterious, fast-paced with vivid descriptions and a slow-burning romance.
“He tasted like midnight and wind, and shades of rich brown and light blue. Colors that made her feel safe and guarded.”
If you’re living in South East Asia, do join my giveaway on Twitter. I am giving away a copy of Caraval!
Quote banner credit to Hafsah of IceyBooks.