The Roar

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

What’s not to love about a world full of magic and mystery, surprises and unforeseen romance? Caraval by Stephanie Garber has all of that and more. It describes how a seemingly unbreakable bond between two sisters gets tested on the island where anything goes.

Scarlett has been writing to Legend, the infamous master and creator of the game Caraval, since her sister’s ninth birthday. After seven years, he finally writes back, inviting her, her sister Tella, and her fiance to play in Caraval.  But he has horrible timing. The game is just before her wedding, and Scarlett remembers what happened last time she and her sister attempted to leave the island.  

Forced by Tella and a flirtatious and mysterious seaman named Julian, Scarlett leaves for Isla de los Sueños (Island of Dreams), where the game of Caraval is to take place that year. However, Tella disappears as soon as they arrive, and as Scarlett is looking for her, she gets involved in a mysterious plot, and soon realizes that Julian is not who he seems. In the dangerous and alluring world of Caraval, no one can be trusted, and everything is at stake.

Garber uses her supreme world-building skills to create a fantastic universe where a dress can cost two days of your life, and the lie you last told can buy you some hot cider.  Caraval is a perfect length, at 416 pages, and even if that might seem rather long to some, it goes by quickly, and leaves the reader wanting more. It has much descriptive language, such as how the smells of anise and lavender, as well as the color of plum, are strongly connected to one of the antagonists. Its characters are very well developed, and the plot is solid and quite interesting.

Its plot is, for the most part, amazing – other than the whole arranged marriage sub-plot, which needed a little work, even if it added some character and plot development. The only other thing I didn’t particularly like is that Scarlett’s feeling come in colors, such as on page 12, where “Scarlett’s feelings came in colors even brighter than usual.” We get no explanation or reasoning for this, and it is a strange way to tell the reader what feelings Scarlett is experiencing. It is just plain odd, and just seems like Garber needed to add descriptive words to her story.

Overall, this is an amazing book that everyone should read, especially those who like mesmerizing mysteries, surprises, and it is truly a tale that will leave you speechless. Just remember, it is only a game.

The next book in the series, Legendary, is set to be released on May 29, 2018.

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