Rating: 5 STARS!
Standalone/Series: Caraval #1
How I got this book: Bought
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.
Whilst I am normally a one book at a time kind of girl, this past week I found myself reading four books; the most I’ve ever attempted at once. My sister (hi Sophie!) was horrified by the idea of reading more than one book at a time, but since all four are so different and unique, I was really pleased that I didn’t get the storylines confused.
One of the books that I read this week was Caraval by Stephanie Garber. It’s the second time that I’ve read this book, I desperately wanted to refresh my memory before Legendary arrives later this month, so I teamed up with my pal Craig on Goodreads for a buddy read.
I previously rated this book 5 stars and unlike some of the other re-read reviews of this book, my star rating is staying the same.
Caraval is an incredible work of fantasy, magic, mystery, and mind-bending deception that blew me away on this re-read maybe more than it did the first time.
Before starting my re-read I remembered falling in love with the storytelling and imagery that Stephanie Garber executes perfectly through her use of colour when illuminating Scarlett’s feelings and to reveal certain aspects of the game. I was also really intrigued by the tunnels and their very unique magic.
I’d already read, and loved, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern a few years back and I felt the same glorious wonder and awe whilst exploring the world of Caraval.
The characters in Caraval are fantastic. Scarlett is brilliant. She’s compelling, fierce, protective, and driven, but at the same time she’s terribly confused, hurt and we see so much from her; so many colours of emotions from fear, horror and grief to wonder, hope and love.
I love her utter devotion to her sister, and that they are both willing to do whatever it takes to protect the other.
My sympathy for Scarlett just continued to grow as I travelled through this book due to the cruelty and torment that she is subjected to throughout the entirety of her story.
I won’t say anything about any of the other characters (although I really, really want to), for fear of giving anything away, so I’ll just leave you with this little snippet from two of the central characters.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Scarlett said. “It doesn’t work on me.”
“That’s why it’s so fun.”
Every step through this book feels like a magical adventure, right from the first page. Entering Caraval is truly a wondrous experience.
Whilst this book does contain a fair amount of 'romance', although it's not as simple as it sounds, I love how dark and twisted the story gets and how that creates a much deeper story and connection with the characters.
What I loved the most about reading Caraval again was that, even though it was a re-read, it was so fresh and mysterious, it honestly felt as though I was reading it again for the first time, and unravelling an entirely new mystery, (and isn’t that every book lovers’ desire? To read a book for the second time and have it feel like it’s the first time…) it made me love it even more.
On a side note, the ‘dress shopping’ scene in this book really fortifies my deeply rooted loathing for clothes shopping. You’ll understand what I mean when/if you’ve read it.
The chapters in this book flew by so quickly, I found myself at the end wondering if I’d gotten so lost in the story that time itself really had been affected by the magic of Caraval.
Overall, this book is one of my absolute favourites and I would highly recommend it to everyone.
I am now even more excited for Legendary!! I have so many questions that need to be answered!!
Prepare yourself for unsolvable mystery, repugnant villains, sisters willing to risk it all for a new life and a world filled with characters who are never what they seem.
“Remember, it’s only a game.”
Trigger warning: this book does contain forms of physical and mental abuse/torment.
Can I also just highlight how gorgeous the shiny gold foiling is both on the dust jacket and the hidden rose image beneath?!?
You can't see in the photo but the dust jacket is double toned, with a white back and split toned spine, making it even more stunning to look at!
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About Kayleigh (She/Her)
Book addict, film mad, music lover, business owner, writer and mum (not necessarily in that order), living in the UK.
About Sophie (She/Her)
Sophie loves books (obviously). She has a passion for photography and spotting wildlife, and is interested in anything made with passion and creativity.
THIS BLOG IS SPOILER FREE!
5 Stars - AMAZING!!
4.5 Stars - Almost perfect!
4 Stars - I really loved it
3.5 Stars - I liked it alot
3 Stars - I liked it
(I don't typically review books that I rate below 3 stars)
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