Thursday, April 20, 2017

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

By Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Hardcover: 407 pages
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ( 5 out of 5 Stars )

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Related Reviews: | Splintered | Cinder |
Categories: Dark Fantasy, New Release

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.

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Holy alien babies. I was absolutely not expecting this book. At all. It came out of nowhere, slapped me in the face and then threw me off the ferris wheel. What. The. Hell. I finished this book a few days ago, and it has taken me this long to gather my thoughts and collect myself. I feel like I still haven't fully accomplished that goal, but what the hell. Here we go..(:

I have read so many negative reviews of this book, comparing it to The Night Circus. Guess what?! I haven't read that, and I wouldn't really care if I had. So many books recycle plots. Caraval was fresh and twisted enough that even if it had the same exact plot as my favorite series, I would still have read it and loved every single minute. Oh, the darkness of this read was beautifully haunting. I am heartbroken that it's over, and I am already counting down the days until the second book comes out. Because, yes, it will be a freaking series!

Scarlett is our female protagonist. I found her irritating at times, only because she said the same thing about a hundred times throughout. I need to get home to my wedding. Like I would be excited about marrying some random that I had never met. Especially when he was a friend of your abusive, psychotic father's! Ugh. Come on now girl. Get your priorities together. Her character was too safe for me to fully connect with. She seemed to analyze and re analyze every single thing before being thrown into a situation that never let her make a decision anyways. Sometimes, you just have to go with the flow, and she was never able to fully grasp that concept. I did enjoy the relationship that she had with her sister, Telly. Throughout this book, her love for her sister was tested to the fullest. While I felt Telly was beyond selfish, she proves herself in the end. Her trust and love for Scarlett is perfect and beautiful.

Every chapter had a new twist or some dark element that left me grasping at reality a little too strongly. I. Loved. It. As a reader, I am constantly analyzing a character; who is he? what is his role? what will happen next? etc.. I found myself giving up questioning anything and anyone around the halfway mark. There was no point. Miss Garber would weave a wall where my thoughts were going, and I was obviously so incorrect on my assumptions that I just 'went with the flow' as Scarlett should have. I truly enjoyed the fairy tale writing style, and the way the author described feelings as colors. It was unique and refreshing to say the least.

I also enjoyed the romance between Scarlett and Julian. It was by no means, insta-love, which is something that I absolutely hate in a good book. The romance didn't take over the story and it didn't deter Scarlett from her ultimate goal. It was just there, in the background, floating around and giving the reader a budding hope that something may happen between the two characters. This proves that Miss Garber's writing style is superb. She doesn't have to draw a reader in with a steamy romance; the story itself is enough. The romance is just a bonus! So, Julian. Sigh. I know Scarlett is supposed to be the main character here, but there was just something about Julian. He was well written, with his rugged handsome features, his cocky attitude, and his hilarious wit. I knew that he was the one for me when, throughout the story, suspicion is cast his way and I just didn't care. It didn't matter, because he was Julian, dammit!

There was an overall darkness to Caraval. Along with the twisted plot, the fairy tale like writing style, and the weird setting.. I absolutely loved this book! I cannot wait for the second one to be released.. hurry up and write this thing Steph! It reminded me a bit of A.G. Howard's writing style in the Splintered Series, so if you enjoyed that one, I'm sure you would love to give this one a shot! Good luck, and happy reading fellow book nerds. <3

fantasy book reviews

"She cleared her throat and peddled even faster. 'Welcome, welcome to Caraval! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you'll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. You can sip magic from a cup and buy dreams in a bottle. But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it's all a game. What happens beyond this gate may frighten or excite you, but don't let any of it trick you. We will try to convince you it's real, but all of it is a performance. A world build of make-believe. So while we want you to get swept away, be careful of being swept too far away. Dreams that come true can be beautiful, but they can also turn into nightmares when people won't wake up.'"

"Scarlett pulled away with a grunt of revulsion, but it was a little too loud, a little too wrong. And to her horror, rather than feeling distaste, a tingle of periwinkle curiosity prickled her senses."

"Not quite sure how far she'd already fallen, she imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out."

"He said something else, but all she felt was his hand brush her cheek. So soft, she thought she imagined it, along with the tender press of his lips to the back of her neck, right before she died."

Related Reviews
| Splintered | Cinder |

Connect with Stephanie Garber
| Official Site | @SGarberGirl | Facebook |
fantasy book reviews