I received Caraval in exchange for an honest review
I was drawn to this book due to its inevitable comparisons to The Night Circus and – while the similarities with my favourite book are only slight – I’m so glad I gave this young adult fantasy novel a try. I don’t read much YA and, as I started Caraval I wasn’t sure how I was going to get on with it – there are some cliches and there’s a very strong romance angle right from from the off which was a little too much at times – but it’s also incredibly fast-paced, engrossing and addictive.
“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 things you’ll ever find to magic in this world.”
For as long as she can remember, Scarlett has been desperate to take part in the magical game which is the Caraval. Ran by an enigmatic leader named Legend, the annual event has been enthralling and mesmerising people for generations. Scarlett sees it not just as a chance to experience the closest thing to magic, but a ticket to freedom, allowing her and her sister, Donnatella to escape their isle of Trisda and their abusive father. But when she finally receives an invitation and embarks on a treacherous journey across water to take part in the game, she quickly realises that what she thought was a blessing may actually be a curse.
The world of Caraval made for amazing reading. Stephanie Garber knows how to cast a spell, and she’s created something which really feels magical in Caraval, a world where time moves faster, colours are brighter and there’s twists, turns and intrigue around every corner. “A second in Caraval seemed richer than an ordinary second, like that moment on the cusp of sunset, when all the colors of the sky coalesce into magic”.
The game itself was fascinating; I loved the intriguing clues and the ruthless contestants, and I was right there with Scarlett as she struggled to understand who could be trusted, if she could even trust her own sight, and how much of the game was real or just an illusion.
The great thing about Caraval is that there is absolutely no filler. Maybe it’s partly the genre – YA stories often move a little faster than many adult novels – but I think most of it is down to Stephanie Garber’s writing. Every chapter, a little bit more of the wonderful world of Caraval is revealed, there’s another twist or a cliffhanger which meant I just had to keep reading. It’s all action and it had me glued to the pages. There’s definitely something special about Caraval, and I really can’t wait until the next instalment.