Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Summary from Netgalley:
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, 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. 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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
I almost didn’t pick up on this book, but I kept seeing it on everyone’s most anticipated books for January, so I decided to check it out and get the e-galley. And I am so glad I did. The hype around this book is very deserving, it is amazing and hard to put down. I advise you to pick it up on a day when you have nothing else planned, because you will not be able to put it down. I curled up with it on a recent rainy Sunday and had a really hard time putting it down.
Scarlett is a great main character. She is tough and has survived much in her young life. I also admire her relationship with her sister. But she still has her flaws and doubts about what she is doing. Scarlett at times is a mess, and so unsure of herself that you doubt the book will have a happy ending. But she manages to survive and go on against the odds.
Julian, Scarlett’s love interest, is a very interesting character. I spent most of the book trying to figure out his true identity, or was he just one of the hired players playing his role. He was mysterious and yet so protective of Scarlett, that I just wasn’t sure what was motivating him. Their romance is wonderfully done as well. I sometimes felt as Scarlett did that he was not to be trusted, but there was no one else she could trust.
There are lots of other good characters that pop up through out the story, but there is one that we never meet, but whose presence is felt through out, Legend, the Caraval’s organizer. Scarlet is always second guessing his motives and his clues to finding her sister, so you always feel like he might just be behind the next corner, or hiding in the shadows watching her.
The Caraval itself is almost a character as much as it is a setting. It is spooky and otherworldly and utterly captivating. I could picture it very well from the authors descriptions, and it truly felt magical in every way, and except for some of the scary things that went on, it sounded like a great place to visit, but I think I would be a spectator not a participant.
The book comes out tomorrow and even though I don’t buy books I’ve already read for myself, I think this one find its way to my shelf.