Caraval // Where I Got Hooked And Was Kept Guessing Until The End

01 February 2017

Published: 31st January 2017
Source: Won
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
My Rating:
Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters' long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show's mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

A mesmerising, magical and stunningly imaginative debut novel for anyone who loved The Night Circus and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.
I wanted to read this book ever since I first heard about it and I feel like I’ve been hearing about it for a good long while. This can be either a blessing or a curse for a book, especially a debut, so I was wary about reading but at the same time couldn’t begin it fast enough. I’ve not had the best time, of late, with books I’ve been excited for, especially fantasy ones, so I was thrilled to read it and actually love it. I raced through it in a couple of days and I would have finished it sooner if I hadn't needed to do things like go to work, or sleep.

The premise of the book is simple, Caraval is a magical game and one which Scarlett and her sister, Tella, have been fascinated with ever since their grandmother told them stories of Legend and of Caraval itself. When they finally receive tickets to go to this event it’s not met with as much excitement as expected as Scarlett is mere days away from an arranged marriage which promises her freedom from her abusive father and a chance for Tella as well. Tella, on the other hand, is determined to go for a chance at freedom. Nothing goes as Scarlett plans when they arrive and her sister disappears, all part of the game. But nothing is as she expects and she doesn’t know who to trust. She just wants to leave but she can’t without her sister so the only way to escape is to take part.

That is all the story you can know without risking spoilers, but let me tell you this ‘game’ is elaborate and you cannot help but get drawn in. You, much like Scarlett, don’t know what is real and what is imagined. It sucks you in. You begin questioning the motives of everyone Scarlett meets and try and guess the answers to the clues she’s been given to find her sister once more. It is a very well executed and elaborate mystery that even kept me guessing until the end. I couldn’t predict everything which happened and I was as much lost in the game as any other player.

It’s hard to fully review this book without spoilers, but being as surprised with the ending as Scarlett is as good a recommendation as anything because I find I often figure out the twists before they happen but not this time.

I will say this book is very much hinged on the fact you are drawn in by the characters. If you don’t sympathise with or understand why Scarlett and Tella act as they do you probably won’t end up enjoying the book. I instantly liked cautious and wary Scarlett because I am a cautious person. I don’t make quick or rash decisions. I understand her protective streak for her sister and got every decision she made was try and make things better for Tella, although Tella didn’t always understand or appreciate why Scarlett acted as she did. The two sisters were as different as night and day. Seeing cautious Scarlett change in the world of Caraval was fascinating and I really enjoyed how she got into the game and she became fully absorbed in it acting as impulsively as Tella might. I loved it

In the end, I really just enjoyed this book. It had flaws and I know it won't be for everyone, but I loved this strange magical game and I am intrigued for the next book, whenever that may be released. It is a twisted fairytale and it has twists and turns and whilst you are repeatedly told it’s a game, the stakes are high and nothing is as it seems. You are left wary and questioning and find yourself rushing to the end.

Have you been charmed by Caraval yet? Do you like it when you get surprised by the ending as well?
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