REVIEW: Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.
“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
Once I started Caraval, I couldn’t put it down. I was swept away by the magic into a lyrical story of mystery, romance, and adventure. It’s been described as perfect for fans of the Night Circus but I think it has a different tone. Yes, they both weave stories of magic and mystery, but Caraval is faster-paced, with puzzles and questions ending every chapter – it often seemed like the more Scarlett explored Caraval, the less she discovered.
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
Scarlett is an interesting main character. She follows the rules and her main hope is for stability so the ever-changing environment of Caraval is not ideal. But her love for Tella hardens her character until she begins to have faith in her choices. I really loved the unusual way Stephanie Garber described Scarlett’s emotions using colours. It created such evocative images that allowed the reader to fully experience what Scarlett was feeling.
“She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”
Julian provided a good foil for Scarlett’s character, questioning her choices and becoming a romantic interest. Julian is mysterious and secretive – Scarlett is unsure whether she can trust him and events often leave the reader questioning his motives. The romance is slow-paced but worthwhile and, most importantly, believable.
I can’t wait for the release of the second book in this duology. Caraval ensured I was invested in its characters so I’m looking forward to learning what followed the events of Caraval.
I would definitely recommend this magical book – WELCOME TO CARAVAL
|About the Author
When I’m not writing, I teach creative writing at a private college in Northern California, where I’ve been known to turn assignments into games and take students on field trips that involve book signings.
To help pay my bills during college, grad school, and the breaks in between, I worked as a barista, a waitress, a bartender, a customer service representative for an energy consulting company, and as a sales girl at Bath and Bodyworks. I also spent years working with youth; I worked as a counselor at space themed summer camp, volunteered at a school for deaf children in Mexico, and I took multiple groups of college students overseas to spend their winter vacations serving at youth hostels in Amsterdam. But out of everything that I’ve done, writing young adult novels has been my favorite job.