Revelling in the magical atmosphere of the twisted game in…Caraval by Stephanie Garber

caraval

 All the way back in July, I was lucky enough to receive a stunning ARC of this book. But since it doesn’t come out until January, I restrained myself from reading it until December. I mean, I did want my review sat scheduled in my posts for 5 months now, did I?

And so at last, this book made it’s way onto my monthly TBR, and here we are today.

spoiler-free

Let’s talk about Caraval!

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Title: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Number of Pages:  416

To Be Released: 26th January 2017

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(Found on Goodreads)

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.

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*Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

WOAH.

How quickly did I speed through this book because I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on?

Very quickly.

Right before I even started reading this book, I had a feeling I was going to love it. So many people said it was sort of like The Night Circus – one of my all time favourite books – so my excitement was almost palpable. And while the magical atmosphere did remind me of The Night Circus, everything else was completely different, and completely twisted, and actually amazing.

First of all you get the characters. Characters that I loved, because their flaws were very evident. Scarlet would be too wary, too cautious. Tella would be the exact opposite, too adventurous, not cautious enough. And despite being polar opposites, the relationship between the sisters was strong, and wonderful to see. Julian wasn’t entirely truthful, or trustworthy. Dragna was cruel and vicious. Legend was a mystery (fitting name, huh?). And yet it was never quite as black and white as that. There was good and bad in all. The characters felt real, 3D, and I loved to read about them.

Then you get the setting. Caraval. The game of all games. Right from the beginning, you’re told to “remember it’s only a game” – you’ll go mad if not. But it’s hard to discern which events are real or not. To imagine which could be elaborate stage performances, and which actually happened just out of coincidence. With hints of magic shown all around, the lines between games and reality blur indefinitely, and this story is a real rollercoaster because of it.

It feels magical. It feels whimsical. Fanciful, unusual, bizarre. Any of those words can be used. But ever so gradually, the whimsical is taken over by the twisted. The game becomes darker, more dangerous, and the threat of going insane takes on a much more serious meaning.

…And I loved it. I know I keep saying that, but I really did. There is no guessing where this story is going. You get explanations that might be true, might be false – maybe they’re just half-truths and hints. And even if you resolve not to trust anything or anyone, that resolve breaks down as you too, as a reader, forget that it’s only a game. It’s really hard not to get as sucked into the world of Caraval as the characters do.

Why? Because it’s so rich in details. While it may be fanciful, to see magical things working as ordinary things might, it’s hard not to get sucked into the riot of happenings. Even feelings have colours, which I found really interesting. Somehow this book made me feel in colour, made emotions so much more visible, almost like an aura surrounding each character. It felt like another form of magic.

Just adding to the wonderful world of Caraval.

As you can probably tell, I have nothing bad to say about this book. Apart from maybe that I really hope there’s a sequel coming at some point. But anyway. This very nearly made it onto my favourites shelf – though not quite there, because I’m quite stingy with my 5 stars…though I do think a reread of this at some point might get that final half-star bump.

I adored this book. And I think a lot of you will too.

Rated 4.5/5 stars!

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Amazon

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Share your thoughts!

Is this book one of your anticipated releases?

Which edition will you be getting? – I heard there’s quite a few!

Do you know of any other books that sound similar to this one?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…

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19 thoughts on “Revelling in the magical atmosphere of the twisted game in…Caraval by Stephanie Garber

  1. This book was already on my top priority ‘to buy’ list when it’s released this month but your review further convinced me to def get my hands on it as soon as I can. 😛 I love The Night Circus too and can’t resist a book that is marketed as similar to that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not REALLY similar to The Night Circus so be wary of that, but there’s definitely a eeriness to it in the sense that you don’t know what magic and what isn’t, which did remind of TNC 🙂 Hope you love it when you get a copy!

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  2. Awesome review! I’m so excited for this book, especially when it was compared to The Night Circus (one of my all time favorite books, too!) I’m so glad that you loved Caraval!

    Liked by 1 person

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