Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Truthfully, I set impossibly high standards for this book. I wasn’t sure how it would ever live up to any of them, but somehow it did. The hype on this book has been so unreal, and there is most definitely a reason. It was everything that I wanted The Night Circus to be, but wasn’t for me. If you haven’t somehow heard of this book, I shall give you the blurb…or some nice space to scroll right over. 😉
Once Upon a Time…
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.
Now, I won’t be giving any real spoilers to this book, because I went into this book blind, and I think that’s the best way to do it. Not knowing too much really helps put you into the headspace to read this and engage in this gorgeous world. I would definitely recommend not knowing anything other than there’s a circus place, and Scarlett is going to find her sister.
Garber’s writing is lush and beautiful. She managed to create a lively, wonderful setting in just a few paragraphs, and some of the quotes were so beautiful that the quote lover in me squealed. There were a few parts that didn’t sound as smooth, but they were easily ignored by the wonders she created elsewhere. Trust me, with writing like this, I can’t wait to dive into another one of her books.
The plot twists were some interesting as well. I never saw anything coming, and I was simply hooked. I just kept wanting to go and go and go until I found out the end, and when I did, my mind was blown. Trust me, I didn’t see that huge plot twist, and I usually pride myself on being a Book Detective.
I also enjoyed the characters quite a bit. At first, I wasn’t super crazy about the love interest. He seemed a little too YA Male cliche, but by the end, I did like him quite a bit. I never super connected to Scarlett, but I still rooted for her and wanted her to succeed. All of the other side characters were interesting and added quite a bit to the story.
The romance was good as well. I did totally ship Scarlett and her love interest together, but truthfully? The romance fell on the backburner for me. That’s right – somehow Garber managed to get this Book Princess to focus on something other than the feels! I was just so enthralled by the plot and the atmosphere.
This book was everything that I had originally hoped it would be. It had some minor issues, but this book has been like a slow simmer for me and keeps getting better the more I think about it. It had a captivating, solid plot; it had great characters; it had a good romance; and most of all, it had a lush writing that I so wanted. Carnival books are making a comeback this year, and Garber certainly lived up to hers. I cannot wait for the companion book in this series, because I can’t wait to see where Garber takes us next.
Rounded up to five crowns, and an Anna rating – which I mean, how fitting can you possibly be?
Check it out:
What do you think? Have you read Caraval? Do you have books that you’ve held to insanely high expectations? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Tonight’s the last night for Round 3 of Book Madness, so make sure to get your final votes in and chances in for the epic prizes they have up right now! Make sure to check it out here! And maybe say hi to Inej for me? Here is my original post here!
And also, I do have a giveaway going right now for my ARC copy of Gilded Cage by Vic James. Don’t forget to enter here if you live in the U.S.!