I received this book for free from Traded in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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.
Caraval has been on my radar for many months. I mean, how could it not be with all the hype circulating? Finally I picked up my copy and I was immediately swept away into a fantastical world!
I’m not really sure what I expected before I started but I must admit Caraval was different than anything I could have possibly imagined and in all the best ways. Caraval is sort of a game/performance. It is meant to be sort of a harmless adventure, one that tests you and perhaps teaches participants a little about themselves. Scarlett has dreamed about attending for years and is sort of thrown into the event when her sister forces her hand in attending and then goes missing as part of the game. It all reminded me of sort of a murder mystery party, without the murder. There are clues to find and you have no idea who around you is in on it. It had a very Wonderland feel about it where everything felt very fantastical and whimsical. Everything around you comes at a cost but currency is run on secrets instead of money. The world was so well written and so fascinating. I seriously had no idea what would happen next and was left guessing from start to finish. Just when I thought I had a handle on it and had it all figured out, the story would twist and turn into a different direction. That can be hard to pull off but the author did a phenomenal job in holding onto the mystery surrounding the Caraval.
One of the main themes running throughout the story was Scarlett’s love for her sister Tella. They have this evil father they both desperately needed to escape from and she would do anything to keep her sister safe, including a marriage to a man she’s never met. When the game becomes all about finding Tella, Scarlett is willing to risk everything to save her sister. Her love was so fierce and I loved how determined and dedicated she was to her sister.
There are other characters along the way with a big part of the story. My favorite was the mysterious sailor Julian who helped Scarlett get to the game and stuck around to help find Tella. He was very intriguing with his hot and cold attitude and just like Scarlett, as a reader it is hard to know who to trust once at Caraval. I quite enjoyed his role throughout the book though and all the mystery surrounding his character. Of course there is also the elusive Legend, the master of the Caraval. Many rumors surround his identity. The game seemed to get more devious over the years as Legend started to become the very villain his character played. But discovering who he was and his intentions was all part of the fun and another mystery begging to be solved.
Caraval was seriously a unique and special read that is impossible to forget. I’m so very glad I gave this one a chance and now I wait along with everyone else for the sequel! If you haven’t read this one yet, don’t let the hype scare you. It is absolutely deserving and worth a read!