Received from NetGalley for review.
Lush red carpet cushioned her steps, while soft golden lights licked her arms with gentle kisses of warmth. Heat was everywhere, when a blink ago the world had been covered in cold. It tasted like light, bubbly on her tongue and sugary as it went down, making everything from the ends of her toes to the tips of her fingers tingle.
Caraval is one of the best books I have read this year. It is such a rich, sumptuous tale full of strange twists and unexpected turns, and I loved every single moment. The writing is evocative and delicious, and I couldn’t get enough of it – I want more, more, more. It’s one of those stories where nothing is as it seems, and even when you think you have something figured out, you haven’t really, you’re not even close. The world-building, the characters, the magical and dangerous game played within Caraval will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end, trying to figure out what is real and what is imagined.
A second in Caraval seemed richer than an ordinary second, like that moment of the cusp of sunset, when all the colors of the sky coalesce into magic.
The story begins with Scarlett finally receiving a reply from Master Legend, who owns the wondrous Caraval, after years of sending letters – a week long performance where the audience are directly involved and can win a magical prize at the end. For Scarlett, it is a chance of freedom for her and her sister Tella from their abusive father, Governor Dragna, if she can only find the courage and be brave enough to take the risk. Scarlett doesn’t end up at Caraval in the way she expected, though, instead being tricked by her sister and a roguish sailor called Julian (swoon). Caraval itself is mesmerising – it is a place where things and people are not what they appear and magic infests every corner of it, it is a place where you can’t tell if you’re being told the truth or an elaborate lie, it is a place where the boundaries between reality and imagination blur and disappear entirely. And it is a place that you will never forget.
Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.
The characters are expertly crafted, playing the role of hero, villain or helper to perfection without becoming caricatures; many of them have you guessing their true intentions up until the end, and the deceptions and true intentions of some of them gave me whiplash. Even though all of the characters are a masterpiece, I absolutely adored Scarlett and Julian. Julian is a sweet baby angel we must all love and protect and Scarlett became such a badass; a prime example of outstanding character development. At the beginning of the story she is cautious and scared, unwilling to do anything that might incur her father’s wrath, but by the end she has taken total ownership of herself and refuses to cower for anyone. Girl power in spades, and I love her for it.
She was done allowing her fear to make her weaker, to eat away at the meat on her bones until she could do nothing but whimper and watch.
I cannot recommend this book enough – it is fast-paced and compulsive, and I devoured it in one sitting, barely able to tear myself away from it. Everything about it is just so good and I can’t wait to see where Stephanie Garber takes this story in the future.