(Caraval Book #1, By: Stephanie Garber)


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.

Published January 2017 by Flatiron Books


I gave this book 3 stars. While it does a good job of pulling you in with the premise, and keeps you around with the mystery, I found many parts of the plot to be lacking, and the main character lifeless for much of the beginning. 

Let's start with the world building. I was expecting to instantly be swallowed up into an amazing fantasy world, and instead found myself unsure and confused by the game of Caraval for much of the beginning of the book. While the world itself was creative, and the descriptions could be beautiful, I didn't feel that connected to the world and I was left wanting more from it. This was largely due to the hesitant nature of the main character, Scarlett, and her POV limiting the reader's world interaction. 

The beginning of the book was sluggish, and I felt stuck in a waiting pattern just wanting Scarlett to go all in and actually start playing the game. At the beginning, I found myself wanting to switch the main character and follow someone else around the game so I could delve deeper in. The plot didn't pick up until about two thirds of the way through the book when Scarlett finally started driving action. Prior to that point, I felt like much of the book was happening to or around her, making her feel less intriguing and making me less invested in the characters as a whole.  Additionally, aspects of the plot and characters felt flimsy, specifically surrounding conflict. A major conflict would happen to Scarlett, and then resolve itself within two sentences, making her feel less realistic. That being said, I did enjoy the tension and relationship that development between Scarlet and Julian, as well as the mysterious character of Legend.  

Overall, the mystery and twists and turns of the plot are what bumped this rating back up. There were secrets and unexpected changes around every corner, especially towards the end of the story that were fun and kept me invested. I enjoyed the unknown of what was going on as well as the reveals along the way. 

While I feel this book had some serious untapped potential, it was still an enjoyable read and I look forward to continuing the series with the second book, Legendary (expected in May of 2018).




Have you read this book? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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