Author: Stephanie Garber
Published: January 2017
Source: Fairy Loot
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.
Caraval is one of those books that I’ve had my eye on since I saw people posting about it at BEA 2016. It sounded so interesting and right up my street so obviously as soon as it was available for pre-order, I had to have it. Luckily, when the January box for Fairy Loot was announced, I had a sneaking suspicion that this was the book of the month so I cancelled my pre-order and I was right!
Sent along with Caraval, was the ‘Come Back Yesterday‘ candle featured in my picture, by Meraki Candles (Stephanie actually named this candle herself which is so lovely), a map featured which has a letter from Stephanie on the other side, a postcard, bookmark and a signed bookplate!
As I was supposed to be meeting Stephanie on the 23rd of February,I wanted to be as prepped and ready as possible, so began reading Caraval almost immediately after I received it, which I would’ve done regardless of the signing as it’s one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 despite it only being January! I unfortunately wasn’t able to make the signing in the end as due to Storm Doris, the trains to Birmingham were all cancelled at my station that day. Typically the day after was glorious!
So let’s talk about Caraval. I had heard of comparisons to The Night Circus, which is a book I have yet to read, however so many people rave about TNC, so I went with the idea that Caraval would be pretty decent and I am happy to report that it was much more than that!
This book was intriguing and mysterious and quite frankly, I loved it. It was magical and I wish that this 5 day event took place in real life. The book features our main character Scarlett, who I loved, trying to track down her sister, Donatella. One of the things I loved about this was the relationship between the two sisters. I really loved this strong bond and relationship the two girls had, despite being two different personalities. The book also features a dashing young man, who I fell in love with. His character was perfect and fit in so well with this story and the other characters, however I don’t want to talk about this too much, as I don’t want to spoil the book for anybody!
Caraval had a lot of building in various different ways. It built on the plot, the world and the characters. With the plot, it kept thickening and became more mysterious as the book went on. I could not have predicted the ending one bit and was totally wrong about what I thought was going on. With the world building..well, this is a given. The island that Caraval is based on continues to be built on throughout the series, and I’m so glad that a map was included in this book so that I could identify where places where as they were mentioned. Lastly, character building. Scarlett, as a main character, grew throughout this book. She was tested and tried in various ways and grew through it. By the end of the book, she was a much more empowering female which was fab.
The setting of Caraval is one of the best settings I have read about recently. I absolutely love the idea of getting to places on a little boat, which actually reminds me a bit of Venice! Although set on a small island, I really liked that the book was descriptive enough for me to imagine the different places in my mind and because of that, I was really able to enjoy the story that much more. The book also includes this lovely map (which, as said earlier, FairyLoot included an individual picture of the map), so I enjoyed being able to place exactly where things were.
Overall, I gave this book 5 stars. It’s a truly magical mystery and ticked every box for me and kept me wanting more and more. If you get the chance, make sure to pick up Caraval, or if you already have, let me know what you thought of it!
As I mentioned, I wasn’t able to make the Stephanie Garber event in Birmingham as Storm Doris swept the country and cancelled the trains from my city to Birmingham which made me very sad. However the lovely people at Birmingham Waterstones kindly managed to get a copy signed and personalised to me.
You can see more of of my pictures (like above!) at instagram.com/hunguponbooks_