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 you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .
Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, 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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Caraval surprised me in so many ways. I don’t know if it’s my reading slump, my high expectations of the book or that it just wasn’t living up to the hype but when I started it, I had a difficult time getting into the story and following it.
I got confused almost all the time and couldn’t find the flow in the storyline.
The book tells the story of Scarlett Dragna, who is the oldest daughter of Marcello Dragna. The man is abusive towards his daughters and has a tendency to be cruel to anyone who dares near them. The only thing on his mind is the upcoming wedding between Scarlett and a man only Marcello knows the name of.
In Scarlett’s eyes her wedding is her salvation. Her fiancée can take her and her sister away from Trisda and save them for their father’s hands. But can she be so sure of his intentions? His letters make him seem like a nice person but it could all be lies.
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
In order to protect her sister from marrying a lie, Donatella finds a way to sneak them both off to Caraval, a magical game led by Legend and his performers. Scarlett is weary and frightful at first but soon she’s drawn into the game. A game she’s loved since childhood and so she steps into it with Julian, a sailor she met on the shores of Trisda, by her side.
But soon she realizes. Nothing is what it seems. It becomes hard to tell truth from lie. And what do you do if your own sister gets kidnapped by the game and only she can lead you to the price?
“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
Although I was intrigued by the idea behind the story. Of a game that didn’t have truth nor lie in it, and could be lethal when you played it.. I couldn’t really get into it. There were too many elements to consider and too many histories and background stories.
Plus, it all played out a little too fast. I know the pace needs to be a little high when there’s only 400 pages to work with and there’s a lot of ground to cover inside the story but I expected a little more mystery and a little more thought provoking stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, there was some of that -with the unknown fiancée and the question to whom Legend could be- but the game itself wasn’t really interesting for me as a reader. I wasn’t as drawn into it as much as I would have expected a reader to be. I was more interested in questions surrounding the game than the game itself.
But maybe that was the point so I’ll shut up about it :p
“It’s better this way, sister. There’s more to life than staying safe…”
The ending, however, was something I had never seen coming. When I got to the middle, my reading pace finally picked up and I finished the book in one go. The last part of the book is where things really kick-off. The story becomes exciting and thrilling. There’s a chase going on, some extreme plot-twists and things that will make you want to ball up like a kitten and sleep for a week.
What I truly loved about this book was its intricate network of different characters. Although it became confusing here and there, I was mesmerized by the set of characters Stephanie played with. Initially I found Julian nothing more but a little annoying but that was the whole point. I kept asking myself who he was and why he was the way he was. I had the same feeling with Dante. Two, at first not so, important characters that don’t get explained until you need them to.
I’m not sure about the romance, though. It was a little too much too fast but in the end that worked out nicely too. I couldn’t handle when…. **NO SPOILER ZONE**
I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars. It didn’t meet my expectations but I can’t blame the book for that since my expectations were a little too high. It helped me get out of my reading slump a little -which was horrendous btw, I haven’t been able to read a thing since November- and renewed motivation to start a new book as soon as possible.