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. -goodreads.com
*We received this arc from NYCC (not sure if I have to note that?) this doesn’t change our opinions at all*
TW: Suicide and Abuse
From the very beginning, Caraval is set up to be a very magical world. I think that Stephanie Garber does a great job making us feel the magic through her use of language and descriptions. Colors aren’t just ‘red’ to her, they’re a ‘ruby color with tiny roses’ (not a quote but an example). It’s been a while since I read a book that uses such vivid and unique descriptions to set up a world. It really fits and adds a nice touch to her book. I think that this was my favorite thing about Caraval!
Yet… it was as if nothing happened in the story. I did finish wanting more, I WANT to know what happens next (there is a cliffhanger of sorts) but I also finished Caraval feeling incomplete. There wasn’t much to the story not to sound horrible, I did love her world and her writing, I just felt as if nothing happened until the end.
I also found myself loving the characters. Scarlett is different from a lot of main characters, she was okay with what life gave her. She’s afraid of taking chances, she’s fine with being in an arranged marriage. That is what sets her apart from all the tough main characters, Scarlett was willing to do what she’s supposed to, basically she’s a rule follower. I also loved her relationship with Tella, at first, I like family relationships because they are rarely shown in books but these two had a clear bond. Every character had their own personality too and had their own way of acting. They’re set apart which is also nice, no two characters are alike. And they all change throughout the story.
BUT I do think that her relationship with Tella was put on hold for romance. We didn’t really get a chance to see Scarlett interact with Tella because she spent so much time with Julian, and her introduction to Caraval started pretty quick. Despite everyone saying that this was a novel of sisterly love, the focus was more on the romance which made me sad 😦 because I love great sister relationships, family love and so on… I do see that Scarlett cares for Tella but it’s hard to remember sometimes as she goes through pretty scenes (and sometimes freaky scenes) with Julian.
Some parts of the story got SUPER stressful, I could feel my heart pounding as I scanned the pages. But with each passing page I felt my excitement die down a bit, Caraval was too over-hyped for me. There didn’t seem to be that much of a story, it was mostly just running around with some romance thrown in. I honestly think that the twist left me kind of disappointed, it made me feel like everything was pointless. I would have liked it better if that twist never even came… which is sad to me. There was so much buildup and then… it fell apart.
Overall, I liked the idea, I liked the characters but it was over-hyped and the story fell flat.
*On a side note I would also love a side story for Dante. Please :3*