Book Club Book Review for May: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber
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.
5 Out Of 5 Stars
Genre: Another-World, Audiobook, Mystery, Romance, Suspense, Supernatural--
Scarlet can't wait until her wedding day, where the mysterious Count will come and whisk Scarlet and her beloved sister Donatello away from the cruel life they have been living with their abusive father. But when tickets shows up for Scarlet, Donatello and a "guest" for Legend's Caraval, Scarlet feels her childhood desire return to go to Caraval and play for a chance to win a wish. Sensibility tells her to marry the stranger who could give her safety but her heart is unsure... but the choice may not be hers.
I have been excited to read this book since I first heard it was coming out, it sounded good and the cover was so pretty and lets be honest, I am a sucker for an attractive cover. Add in the fact some friends had already read the book and raved about it, and I knew I was going to read it the first chance I got (which happened to be May for book club). I was a little leery that my expectations might be too high, but I am happy to report that the book lived up to it's hype. I was lost in the pages, counting the minutes until I could get back to the story and escape real life, tangled in the twists and mysterious and imagery that was Caraval.
This was such a fantastical world the author brought to life, full of magic, mystery and the most amazing of settings. The author was able to describe this fanciful world in detail, bringing it to life from the pages, making me immersed in Caraval just as much as Scarlet. The smallest details were so painstakingly created (but not in an overbearing kind of way) that I could not just see the events unfold, but I could smell them, taste them, experience them right along with the characters. And everything was so creative, be it the shape of the shops, to the items they sold, and especially the payment methods collected (for example, a secret for a cider).
The characters were the next best part. Scarlet was strong and goal oriented, not a damsel in distress who needed saving (even though she may have had a gentleman around to help facilitate things. Donatella was harder for me to pin down, she was only in the book a few chapters and I did not like what I saw, but to be fair she had her reasons (which I would love to know more about). Julian was mysterious, courageous, dreamy, frustrating and a great character overall- I was kept on my toes the whole time about his motives and purpose, which I enjoyed. There were tons of side characters that added flavor to the book such as Dark Dante, the Count and my favorite Iko. I really hope to see more of the cast of characters and more behind the scenes of Caraval to come.
I loved the ending and how the book set up for another adventure. I did not know if this was a standalone or the first in a series, but it seems as if there will be more to come...
Side note, I listened to the aubiobook version of the book and the narrator was AMAZING! I would gladly listen to more books narrated by her, she puts on such a good performance.