Girls*Heart* Books: 'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber : Mel's Review

Sunday, June 4, 2017

'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber : Mel's Review

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.


Mel’s Review:

Caraval is Stephanie Garber’s debut novel. It’s a YA story; it’s an adventure and a mystery and a romance and just so much more than I could ever fully explain. When I first read the back of the book, I got a thrill of excitement, it seemed to have everything.  I couldn’t wait to dive into the story to see if it would live up to my already high hopes. I listened to this on audiobook while at work and honestly, I sat there wishing my shift was longer so I could finish it before I went home and had to tend all that adulting crap I have to do there. This book far surpassed all of my expectations.

The story follows Scarlett Dragna who has spent her entire life dreaming about Caraval and the wonder it promises. Her whole life is about trying to protect her younger sister, Tella from the cruelty of their father, the mayor of the tiny island where they have lived their whole lives. Abandoned by their mother, the girls only have each other. Scarlett has written countless letters to Legend, the master of Caraval, hoping to entice him to bring his game to their island. But she never receives a response. Not until the year she writes him that she’s about to be married -an arranged marriage that will benefit her father’s career and she hopes, get Scarlett and her sister out of his clutches for good. This time she receives a response and to her greater surprise, tickets to Caraval. The downside- they have to find a way off their island without her father finding out or it could ruin her plan for their permanent escape.

Garber weaves a unique, immersive tale that draws you in from the start and doesn’t let go until the very last word. Even then, I was desperate for more of the story, more of these characters and this world she’s crafted so masterfully. The characters are so complex, so fleshed out and multidimensional, the story is so rich with detail, rife with tension and suspense, filled with magic and illusions. She keeps you guessing about what’s real and what’s simply sleight of hand until the very end. I could gush about this book for days and days but I don’t want to spoil the story for you. So I will leave you with this; I loved every single moment of this story and I cannot wait for the second book in the series.

My Rating:

About the Author-

I’m the international and New York Times bestselling author of Caraval.

When I’m not writing, I teach creative writing at a private college in Northern California, where I’ve been known to turn assignments into games and take students on field trips that involve book signings.

To help pay my bills during college, grad school, and the breaks in between, I worked as a barista, a waitress, a bartender, a customer service representative for an energy consulting company, and as a sales girl at Bath and Bodyworks. I also spent years working with youth; I worked as a counselor at space themed summer camp, volunteered at a school for deaf children in Mexico, and I took multiple groups of college students overseas to spend their winter vacations serving at youth hostels in Amsterdam. But out of everything that I’ve done, writing young adult novels has been my favorite job.

My debut YA fantasy novel, Caraval is out now (Flatiron Books/Macmillan—US and Hodder & Stoughton—UK). Caraval has sold in thirty foreign territories and the movie rights were picked by Twentieth Century Fox.

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