Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world. Her grandmother’s words played in Scarlett’s head as she looked at the slips of paper in her hands. The Caraval stories she adored as a young girl never felt more real than they did in that moment. Scarlett always saw flashes of color attached to her strongest emotions, and for an instant goldenrod desire lit up inside her. Briefly, Scarlett let herself imagine what it would be like to go to Legend’s private isle, to play the game and win the wish. Freedom., Choices. Wonder. Magic.
A beautiful, ridiculous fantasy.
Remember, it’s only a game…
Scarlett Dragna and her sister Tella live on a the tiny island of Trisda with their powerful and unmeasurably cruel father. Scarlett sees a way out of her miserable existence spent with her father in the form of an arranged marriage to a count she has never met, but who sends kind and loving letters speaking of his excitement at their life together. The only damper on the marriage is that her dreams of seeing Caraval, the once a year week-long performance where the audience are participants as well, are over. When her invitation arrives to Caraval arrives in the mail unexpectedly, her sister whisks her away to the show with the help of an overly confident and more than suspiciously mysterious sailor. As soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind and ringleader, Legend. As it would turn out, this season’s performance revolves around Scarlett and Tella and whomever finds Tella first will receive the prize. Despite being told not to trust or believe anything that happens in Caraval, Scarlett soon finds herself immersed in a game of love, mistrust, magic, and death. She can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t. However, it soon doesn’t matter what is and isn’t real because the clock is ticking and Scarlett only have five nights to find her sister before a dangerous domino effect of consequences are set off and she loses her sister forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
This is more in my comfort zone than my last two and I did really love it! It read well as though it would be a standalone novel for most of the book, but does leave you with a cliffhanger at the end alerting you to the fact that this is the beginning of a series or at least a duology. I felt that the characters were very well written! It really held my interest and had me changing my mind several different times about what exactly was going on. It’s not confusing to follow and you will probably guess the main gist of the story before the big reveal, but it does have its secrets that will sneak up on you.
I think this is a good book for eighth grade and up, if your middle schooler is a pretty solid reader. It’s a clean read, I don’t recall much language or adult material, however I can’t guarantee that it will stay that way across all books. There was flirtations with the idea but nothing spelled out or displayed openly.
Stephanie Garber certainly grabbed my attention! I can’t wait to see what else she writes!