Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #1) ★★★★☆
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
As this was bring released, there was a lot of hype around. But soon the negative reviews started coming in. There seems to have been a really mixed reviews surrounding it, so I had no idea what to expect. But fortunately, I loved it!
I think a lot of the disappointment came from comparisons to The Night Circus (which is incredible). But the thing is, this is nothing like The Night Circus, so if you do pick this up keep that in mind.
So back to the book in question. It had a wonderfully strange and whimsical feel to it. At times, it almost feels like middle grade fiction and I loved that about it. (In fact, I would have loved to had read a middle grade version of this)
Throughout the contest, Scarlet doesn’t know what’s really and what’s not and we’re taken along on the same emotional rollercoaster that she is on. As a reader, you’re constantly guessing and trying to work out what’s actually happened just as much as she is.
I really enjoyed the novel. When I picked it up I thought it was a stand alone, but since discovering there will be a sequal I’m excited to pick it up!