Monday, January 16, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Source: Hachette via NetGalley

Two sisters bound by love and a father they fear escape their tiny, secluded island for the wondrous performance of Caraval, where the audience plays along in a mysterious and magical game of determining what's real and what's fantasy. And where only one sister might be brave enough to win the ultimate prize of 'an impossible wish'...

Scarlett Dragna 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 lonely Scarlett, it represents freedom, an escape from her abusive father and from her own dark past.

Still, Scarlett is too scared of her father to leave Trisda. Until she is kidnapped by her wild younger sister Donatella and a dangerous yet oh-so-seductive sailor named Julian and taken to the mystical Isla de los Suenos, the site of this year's Caraval. When they arrive, her sister immediately disappears. Since protecting Tella is all she knows, Scarlett is forced to join forces with Julian and find her before the evil Master of Caraval does...
Review by Nara

Caraval is a magical book, and it's very easy to see exactly why it has been gaining so much praise in the bookish community even before wide release. The premise grabs your attention immediately (especially with the comparisons with The Night Circus) and within the first few chapters, the setting captures your imagination and shows you the wondrous Caraval. I was pretty satisfied with the book overall, despite there being a few things that I didn't like.

I have to say, the romance was pretty mediocre. It's a bit hard to 100% nail down why, but it was possibly because I just disliked the character of Julian, who was quite flawed and initially actually pretty irritating in how he treated Scarlett. Thankfully, the romance wasn't a massive part of the plot, and the other things in the novel were interesting enough that the crappy romance didn't affect my view of the novel too much.

Scarlett was quite naive, which I suppose was not completely a bad thing from the view of the reader, as it gave her room to grow throughout the novel and gain knowledge about the world outside of her family home. It was great to see her move through the various challenges of Caraval. I'd definitely say that the best part of the novel was the fact that you could never really know who to trust. Even towards the end, it wasn't completely clear and you'd keep reading with a fair bit of suspicion of basically every character.

That ending though! While the story of the performance of Caraval is wrapped up in this first book, the ending makes certain that you know what adventures are next in store for the sisters. Adventures that I am very much looking forward to reading about.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 2/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 3.5/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Cover: 3/5