Author: Stephanie Graber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Scarlett Dragna has dreamed of attending Caraval–a magical show where the audience are participants in the game–since she was a child. She’s been writing the organizer, Legend, every year in hopes of an invitation. Now, merely days away from her wedding, Scarlett receives and invitation from Legend inviting her, her sister, and her fiance to the game. Desperate to escape her abusive father, but terrified of putting her wedding–her guarantee of escape–in jeopardy, Scarlett despairs of going until a mysterious sailor, Julian, gets her and her sister off the island and takes them to Caravel. Once there, Tella, Scarlett’s sister, is kidnapped by Legend and becomes the focal point of this year’s game. Although Scarlett has been warned time and again not to believe anything and not to get swept up too much in the game, for that way lies madness, she can’t help become hopelessly entangled. Now, time is running out. Will she find her sister in time? Or will this game claim another victim?
I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. Scarlett was just such a great character. I loved how she looked out for her sister and did whatever she could to keep her safe. I loved that she was so driven to follow rules and her confusion and frustration at this new world that refused to give her anything concrete. I enjoyed her journey in the world of Caraval, how she figured out how to play the game and her methods of figuring out the clues to find her sister.
The world was amazing, too. I liked the mystery and magic of the world. It had a few things I haven’t seen before and I loved the magic system. It was just so intriguing and richly imagined. I wish I had half the imagination that Stephanie Graber has.
I also liked the relationships between the characters. Julian, the sailor who takes the sisters to the island, was a great mystery to unravel. I admit, I thought I had him figured out early on, only to be thrown through many loops as the story went on. I was disappointed I wasn’t right, but the actual reveal was very satisfying.
Overall, I thought this was a solid book with a great premise. It was entertaining, it was magical, and the characters were fantastic. I greatly look forward to the sequel.