by Stephanie Garber
“Remember, it’s only a game…
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.”
The first words that come to mind to describe CARAVAL are lush, elaborate, engrossing, and full of intrigue.
The world building is fantastic. Stephanie Garber’s writing is full of beautiful descriptions that really bring the world to life. I felt like I was experiencing the world right along with Scarlett. I really had a sense of the people and places that Scarlett was encountering. From the first moments of the game, there is a sense of urgency and revelry in the air. That added a lot to drive the story forward and create a convincing motivation for Scarlett’s actions.
There were so many layers that made the story so utterly amazing. The story begins with Scarlett’s letters to Legend as a child, hoping to one day get to experience the magic of Caraval. Immediately after that, we get a glimpse of the horrible mistreatment and abuse that Scarlett and Tella had lived with from their father. This helps us to understand the urgency that they have to get away from Trisda.
Once Scarlett, Tella, and Julian find themselves at Caraval, there is non-stop action that takes continuous twists and turns. Though they have been warned not to get too swept up in the game, for it is all an elaborate performance, it becomes clear that there is so much more at stake here.
At once both thrilling and terrifying, the game to find Tella brings Scarlett and Julian closer, and tests Scarlett’s devotion to her sister. The stakes are high, which adds a level of danger to the whole game that kept me on the edge of my seat!
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
HEADING TO HOLLYWOOD: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HAS OPTIONED CARAVAL FOR FILM.
Meet the author // Stephanie Garber
“Stephanie Garber loves Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where she feels as if the fantastical stories she loves to write about could actually come to life. When she’s not writing young adult fantasy, she teaches creative writing at a private college in northern California, where she’s known for turning assignments into games and taking students on field trips that involve book signings. Caraval is her first novel for young adults. She would love to hear from you on social media.”