Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Published by Hachette Australia on January 31st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Hachette Publishing NZ
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Find at Hachette NZ
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.
When Scarlet finds sister Tella with a strange boy, she thinks it’s just another one of Tella’s flings. But things take an interesting turn when the stranger, Julian, says he can get them out of Trisda, get them away from their violent, cruel father. He can get them to Caraval.
While Scarlet has written to Legend, the famous Caraval master mind, for years pleading with him for tickets for Tella, Scarlet is now engaged and awaiting the arrival of the Count she’s never met, as arranged by her father. She can’t just run off with Tella and this stranger. But after a series of events, Scarlet finds herself on the beach with Julian, having left Trisda behind, and now determined to find Tella, who has suddenly gone missing.
Scarlet and Julian enter the game of Caraval, and follow clues and chaotic characters to win the game. The prize this year? A wish. But it’s more than that to Scarlet; Legend has taken Tella and Scarlet must find her, no matter the cost.
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
This.Book. Oh my word this book was great. Caraval is full of everything I love about the circus – the magic, the glamour, the secrets and mysteries, the master mind, and the creativity. And minus the clowns. Phew. The concept is just fantastic, and I can only imagine something like this in real life. Obviously without the kidnapping, without the actual death, etc etc, but you know what I mean. A week long scavenger hunt-like game in the midst of a circus setting, – ah! So cool.
Scarlet as a character was pretty good. You’ll know by know my general feelings towards main characters, but I liked Scarlet. Nearly everything she did was for her sister, and while Tella never did anything for Scarlet, Scarlet still wanted to risk everything to save Tella. She was definitely persistent and strong when she could have been falling apart.
Julian, however, was definitely a favourite of mine. He was an intriguing character, and a fun sort of side-kick love interest. He grabs your attention from the minute he steps into the scene (in the first pages!), and doesn’t let you go. You’re always a little wary of him, though, because you’ve read enough books to know that there’s always something being hidden, and usually from the mysterious character who’s just popped up from nowhere.
The array of other characters sprinkled into the story were just as you would expect in a circus environment – they had secrets, the shared gossip, they tricked, they helped, they spun clever webs around the main characters, which only made the entire plot more dramatic and mysterious.
“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.”
As I mentioned, the concept of this story is incredible. Such a neat idea, and Garber really wrote it well. It’s amazing that this is her first book! There was never really a moment where I questioned the setting, or thought something was unrealistic to the plot line or uncharacteristic of people. It’s this mixture of fun-loving carnival feels with magical lights and beautiful gowns, dazzling costumes and fancy hotels. But it’s dark and almost sinister at times, and it’s this wonderful combination of good and bad, pleasure and pain, life and death, love and loss. I won’t say anything more, but the twists and turns this book definitely take you on a journey.
You’ve got to pick up this book. It was released in January, and I already can’t wait for another book from Garber.
Thank you to Hachette Publishing NZ for this review copy.
Have you read Caraval? What did you think?