Synopsis from Goodreads:
“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 . . .
Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
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 the stunning debut from Stephanie Garber, I couldn’t put it down from the moment I opened it.
The cover is amazing, the hidden covers under the dustjacket are beautiful and are a nice extra touch, each relevant to the story in different ways. There is also a map of Caraval in the front and who doesn’t love bookish maps??
The story starts with Scarlett, who lives with her sister, Tella and father,. Her whole life she has dreamed of going to Caraval, a once-a-year event where the audience can either observe or participate in the show, and wrote letters to the mysterious organizer yearly in a bid to make this happen. When Scarlett gives up on this dream, due to an arranged marriage set to take place, a letter arrives from Legend himself enclosing two tickets.
At the start, Tella is kidnapped and Scarlett must find her before the end of Caraval so she can return home in time for her wedding. Scarlett teams up with Julian, the sailor who brought her, to play the game and find her sister before it’s too late.
“Remember, It’s only a game…”
Scarlett becomes immersed in a game full of magic where nothing is as it seems, where the lines between real and fantasy become blurred.
I was unsure whether or not to read this to begin with, I’m glad I did, though. I loved the world, characters and the intrigue. Stephanie has created a fast paced story full of magic, twists and turns that leave you questioning everything you thought you knew about the game and it’s players, just when you think you’ve grasped it, there’s another exciting twist around the corner waiting to be unravelled. The mysterious and illusive Legend’s presence is felt throughout, though you’re never sure if he’s actually there. It is a little slow at times but for me, this allowed time to breath and process recent events, pick up details I would have otherwise overlooked etc.
Just when you think it’s all over there’s another twist paving the way for the events to come in book two. Caraval did not disappoint, it was everything I wanted it to be and more. It’s a must read for any fantasy fan!
Caraval is published by Hodder & Stoughton 31 Jan 2017