Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval- the title of the book and the name of the once a year magical performance where the people who show up to watch can also choose to be a part of the show and compete to win a prize.

Scarlett, our main character, has been wanting to attend Caraval for years and a big part of the reason why is that it would be an escape from her abusive father. She wants to get her and her sister Tella away from him so badly that, when the novel officially starts, she’s a week away from an arranged marriage with a man she’s never met.

And then the invitation from Caraval’s mastermind, named Legend, arrives.

But by this point Scarlett thinks she’s grown too old for the promise of magic. That means it’s up to Tella who, with the help of a mysterious sailor named Julian, sweeps her away to the island where Carnaval is held and then the games begin.

Only Caraval isn’t just a magical scavenger hunt. It’s a psychological performance with twists and turns appearing around each corner, leaving Scarlett and the reader wondering what is real and what isn’t until the very end.

The writing was beautiful though overly flowery in some places. I was annoyed by a few repeated phrases (Unless it’s a battle cry or slogan, full phrases don’t need to be repeated again and again. It’s annoying.)

I felt like the characters were fleshed out and behaved truly to what we knew/found out about their backgrounds. I liked all of the mind games and the sisterly bond between Scarlett and Tella.

Now I’ve seen some pretty harsh reviews of this book and while there are some issues with it I was able to overlook them because the story just drew me in and I loved it. It had me up hours after my “bedtime” not once but twice and the twists and turns had me confused in the best way.

I  was also pleasantly surprised to learn that there would be at least one more book following this one. I hadn’t known that going in and I’m glad for it.

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