Caraval was one of the most highly anticipated YA releases of 2017, and I actually received the ARC on netgalley last year. I’ve pretty much stopped reading kindle books though, unless I have finished the book I’m carrying and need to start “emergency” reading. A.K.A. I have another hour of my commute and have nothing else to read. I had pre-ordered the hardback though, and I was taken aback a bit at how beautiful it was!
From the blurb:
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.
Scarlett and her sister Donatella live on a small island, where their father is the Governor, and he controls their lives through fear.
Whenever Tella, who is rather rebellious, misbehaves, it is Scarlett who receives the punishment. This could be a punch to the stomach, a full beating, or murdering a servant as a “lesson”.
Scarlett is desperate to leave the island with her sister, and for years dreamed of being able to attend Caraval – the magic show/game controlled by the mysterious Legend. As a child she wrote him letters, begging him to come to their small island, since she and her sister were not allowed to leave. Then there was an accidental death during the game, and Caraval didn’t seem like such a good idea.
This year Scarlett is seventeen, and has agreed to marry a man she had never met, so that she and her sister can finally be safe. Of course, this is the year that Legend writes back, inviting Scarlett and Tella to his island, where Caraval will be taking place this year.
Scarlett doesn’t want to leave – she is almost free, and doesn’t want to risk the wrath of her father and soon-to-be husband. Tella takes matters into her own hands, and with the help of a young sailor named Julian, kidnaps her sister, and takes her to Legend’s island.
When Scarlett awakes Tella is gone. Legend has taken her as the “prize” to this year’s game. With her sister missing, Scarlett has to decide whether to play, or go back to her fiance. Should Scarlett risk everything for her sister and her freedom? Is it really only a game, or does Legend have another agenda?
I found this book to be rather delightful overall. I hated Tella with a fiery passion- she was selfish, impulsive and generally seemed quite stupid. The romance angle was quite predictable, you could see the twists coming a mile away, but I quite liked seeing everything turn out how I predicted. I know some reviewers had problems with the authors descriptive writing style, but I thought it added to the atmosphere and the plot kept moving forward. Unlike The Night Circus, which was all description and no story… gah!
I gave this 3/5 stars on Goodreads, and am excited for the next book in the series.
Let me know if you’ve read Caraval, and what you thought in the comments below.