Friday, 3 February 2017


'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' (from Goodreads).

After trying for a week to even start Caraval, I have been sat in the bath for about an hour tonight and have finally finished it! I am so happy and yet so unsatisfied with the ending. This book has taken me on an emotional rollercoaster and I don't know why I expected anything different from Garber's debut. The Night Circus is now frequently mentioned in association with Caraval and I could see the links. However I did feel that Caraval also possessed the element of mystery and craziness that were present throughout Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I am sure we're all aware, by now, of my love of Alice in Wonderland. There are riddles, and lies all of the way through.

Stephanie Garber did an amazing job. From the very beginning, we are warned that we must not get carried away and swept up by Caraval. We are warned that the magic is not real, that it is just a game. I felt as though this warning was not just intended for players like Scarlett. The warning also seemed to apply to the reader. But I will admit to getting carried away. I was swept away by Caraval and did not wish to return to reality. I am suffering with a major book hang over after this one! But it also got me out of a little bit of a reading rut. Caraval is a book that you race through, desperate to find out the fates of chararacters such as Scarlett and Donatella. Yet, I didn't want it to be over. Garber included plot twists at every step of the way to keep my hooked. Caraval was so unpredictable that I really appreciated its mystery. I fell in love with the descriptions of the mysterious location, the boy that falls flies from the first balcony upon their entry, and Scarlett's mood changing dress!

Scarlett was a beautiful character and I fell in love with her. She was genuine, good (though it is pointed out that 'good means different things to different people), and relatable. She was anxious for most of the book, but the game changed her. The development in her personality was lovely to see, I felt as though I was watching Scarlett grow up during the week long adventure. She was the only character that I felt that I could trust throughout the entire novel. I had nobody else to trust or to root for, especially as Scarlett kept writing everyone off as I began to trust other characters. Dontatella is absent for much of the novel, and therefore untrustworthy. Julian is a character that Scarlett repeatedly questions. Her father is scum, who beats Dontatella in order to encourage Scarlett to behave. We know nothing about the Count that Scarlett is due to marry, only that her father has set it up! The rest of the characters seem to be Caraval performers. The novel is based upon rumour, and lies and huge leaps of faith. It was certainly not easy to make any assumptions.

I felt stuck with Scarlett and simply had to trust her judgement regarding legend, her father, and the count. Caraval made Scarlett question herself and I was right there with her. On the surface, it appeared that all she thought about was the impulsive Donatella. But beneath, it was clear that she sought so much more from life. Scarlett only begins to make choices for herself right at the end of the novel, after following Donatella around into Caraval, being forced into an arranged marriage by her father, and accidentally falling in love with the charming Julian.

The bond between the two sisters was truly beautiful to read. Though the story features romance and mystery, the true focus remains on the relationship between Scarlett and Donatella. Following the most painful cliff-hanger I have ever had the pleasure of reading, I had to find out if there was going to be a second book! The good news is that Garber is planning a second novel and the film rights have already been sold! I am so very excited!

Just a short review for today, purely because I cannot bring myself to spoil it for anybody. I recommend this book, wholeheartedly. By far the best book I have read in a long time. Thank you very much to Fairyloot for making it a part of their January box.

Have a lovely evening, folks.

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