- Page Count: 416
- Release Date: January 31, 2017
- My Rating: 5 stars
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and 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.
I’m not sure if I should call this one of my favorite books of 2016 or 2017, but it’s definitely at the top of both lists! I can totally see why Fox already bought the movie rights!!
The setting kind of feels like The Night Circus meets the first Pirates of the Caribbean with a bit of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus thrown in? The story is completely unique, though, and TOTALLY pulled me in. I’ll write a more detailed review closer to 2017, but here’s some general gushing for now:
Every single element was so well done! The way the whole story unfolds as a sort of mystery + quest with a deadline makes it a million times more addicting, but the characters, writing, and setting would have been incredibly strong on their own no matter what. There really isn’t much I’d change about this book.
Every time I had some complaint (like “do NOT try to make the abusive father sympathetic now”) the story would just twist in a different direction that worked even better. I had a few complaints at first involving Scarlet’s character and the men in her life, but then everything totally worked by the end! And by 80% I wasn’t sure how on earth there would be a sequel but when I got to the epilogue I was like NO! OF COURSE! THIS IS BRILLIANT! NEXT BOOK PLEASE!
So I was just constantly surprised the whole way through. The plot weaves all over the place and keeps throwing curveballs at you to the point where you don’t know who or WHAT to trust anymore. I thought I called some plot twists at the beginning, but was completely off. This is one of those rare books you wish you could forget and then go back to read all over again for the first time because figuring everything out is an adventure on its own.
I also loved how the relationship between the two sisters was the strongest relationship in the story. I mean, there is romance, but it’s not the central focus. And I liked that this is a complete story by itself, but then the epilogue has a cliffhanger that leads into a sequel that’s already perfectly set up!
Stephanie Garber is an incredibly talented author and this is a book that pretty much any age will love!!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC!