5★ books | book review

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Book: Caraval (Caraval #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Pages: 402 (Paperback)
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Published: January 31st, 2017

In Caraval, we follow the story of two sisters. Abused by their father, they want nothing more than to escape the island where they grew up. Scarlett, the older sister has dreamed of going to Caraval, an annual performance where magic and reality overlap. When, after years and years of writing to Legend, the master of Caraval, he finally invites her and her younger sister Tella, they leave the island with the sailor Julian and become part of Caraval. But then Tella is abducted and Scarlett is doing everything to get her back, but nothing is as it seems and Scarlett has to be careful of what she believes and who she trusts. And when uninvited guests arrive and are after Scarlett, she has to act fast and wisely. Above all she has to remember it’s only a game…

My review:
I loved, loved, loved Caraval. The beginning was already intriguing, showing Scarlett’s letters to Legend and how they developed through the years. Then the other important people are introduced. In the first chapter the reader learns a lot about the world and the characters.  I wasn’t the biggest fan of the two sisters. Tella’s character is a bit of aa mystery to me and I couldn’t really get behind of what she was thinking and why she acted the way she did. In the end it gets a bit more clear, but for me she was a bit of an annoyance. Scarlett is a fierce character who is always looking out for her sister, who’s way more reckless than herself. She is strong and pretty kickass, but for me it was the same as with Tella, I couldn’t get a grip of her character. I liked her but even though she was a main character, it was not enough character development for me. Whereas I really liked Julian, Scarlett’s sidekick and love interest. At first he seems to be a simple sailor but there is so much more to him that is uncovered the deeper the reader gets into the story.

The plot was absolutely amazing though. It was unforseeable what would happen next, because these mix of magic, reality and playing games was tricking the characters as well as the reader. That made it really exciting to read, because literally everything could have happened – and it did. There were plot twists and surprises, good and bad. And even though we have a villain, he is not really a villain. But the reader gets presented with a variety of villainous characters. The somewhat distant characters only helped this plot going forward. The reader doesn’t get to know the characters well enough to predict anything which makes everything only more interesting.
I also loved Garber’s writing style. It was fluent and easy and very enjoyable to read. It made the whole Caraval-world more alive and it was easy to picture it.

For me, it was completely impossible to get bored. I was hooked from page one and I only stopped reading when I finished the book. This is such a great story and I cannot wait for the next installment in the series!


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