Sunday, August 21, 2022

Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

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 . . .

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.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away. 

Paperback, 418 pages
Published May 1st 2018
 by Flatiron Books
3.5/5 stars

Stephanie Garber is not a new to me author. I thoroughly enjoyed her book Once Upon a Broken Heart and while I eagerly await its sequel next month I am starting to go through her back list. Caraval was her debut and the first in a trilogy.

I did a combo book/audiobook and well the book was lovely to read, keeping my attention and all that, I found I myself enjoying the audio for the majority of the time. Rebecca Soler did a good job with the narration.

Two sisters, Scarlet and Tella are opposite in personality and family loyalty. Most of the book centres around Scarlet as she embarks on a journey with reluctance but determination to bring her sister home, then wed a Count though they have never met. What follows is an adventure through a game (but, is it really) that paved the way for two more books.

Caraval is a well written story with some wonderful world building, it was fast paced and a fun read. I didn’t care for all the characters (looking at you Tella) and had trust issues with some.  The ending works while also leaving the door open for the sequel.

While I didn’t love this book as much as Once Upon a Broken Heart, I look forward to Legendary and continuing this series.

This book was part of my 2022 reading off my shelf challenge.

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