Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Publishing Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Young Adult Fantasy
The Premise from the Publisher: "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 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. 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" (Flatiron Books).
My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise of this book, I instantly thought to myself The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It has been quite some time since I've read that book, but immediately, I felt intrigued by this text and wanting to explore the world of "Caraval" - Caraval is described as a once-a-year show that moves around and audience members can participate. There seems to be interactions, games and challenges and I was also thinking of Alice in Wonderland connections too. I really did not know what to expect, but I can firmly say that I really loved this book. To begin with, the book utilizes the element of letters in the text. I love reading letters and I just find it adds another layer to each character. Also, you are introduced to Scarlett and Tella, two sisters who are both incredibly different but it is clear that their relationship is quite strong and they love one another a lot. I don't often like reading narratives where there is immediately family drama and this was a nice change. The reader can see Scarlett struggling to secure a future for her and Tella, while Tella attempts to protect them both from their father's wrath. The world of "Caraval" and this mystical individual named Legend is introduced. He is the one who has created Caraval and has this one year, given the girls a chance to attend the performance. They meet a mysterious sailor by the name of Julian who is going to help them get there and to play the game. Things are immediately complicated once they depart on their journey, and it only gets more confusing when Scarlett and Tella are separated. Scarlett must rush to find her sister through all the riddles and puzzles and as she does, she learns of the magical world of Caraval but also learns more about herself.
I really enjoyed this book. I found myself grinning a lot because I just loved the dialogue between the sisters and the dialogue between Scarlett and Julian. Each character felt so vivid to me and even the ones I did not particularly enjoy (there were some antagonists in the text), were written so well. Also the descriptions of the environment/world of Caraval were wonderful. I could see it all coming to life in my mind as I was reading it. I really liked how clever the text was too and every time I thought I figured out the plot and could see where the story was going next, I was constantly surprised. I really hope that Garber plans to write more of this Caraval world and its characters because I was quite sad when I finished the book. I loved everything about it and it has been a while that a fantasy novel like this has drawn me in so quickly. I think fans of The Night Circus, Alice in Wonderland and Marissa Meyer's Heartless, would definitely enjoy this! This was an easy 5 stars for me. Loved, loved, loved it!
Now available for purchase at:
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I want to thank the lovely folks at Raincoast Books for organizing yet another wonderful blog tour for bloggers and I want to thank Stephanie for such a wonderful book. I really can't wait to read more from her! Please be sure to check out the other stops on the tour to check out more Caraval content:
Disclaimer: An advanced reader's copy of the book was provided by Raincoast Books for participation in the book tour. All opinions of the book are my own.