Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Genres: Family, Fantasy, General, Performing Arts, Romance, Siblings, Young Adult Fiction
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.
Typically, I write all reviews as soon as I finish the book. Caraval, however, was an exception. I needed to think over this book for a night just to understand and decide if I liked the story or not. There were equal parts of what I enjoyed, of what I didn’t like, or plainly did not understand.
The setting of the Caraval was the most interesting aspect because of its unusualness. There were things I would have liked to know more about, especially the hows and whys of the magic system and about those who work for Caraval. Why didn’t they age?
I also think the game was too easy for Scarlett—as in she had relatively low competition from other participants. She didn’t even have to worry about other people. She was essentially competing against herself. I was going into this story expecting more competition, but instead got a young woman being psychologically toyed with the entire event. Along with a love interest with a penchant for lying and all-around deception (alas, she still loves him anyway).
By the time the game ends, Scarlett has been through Hell and back. Only for that reveal to happen. She went through fear, mental stress, and lies for that. I would have turned and walked away—not what she did. At least some hellfire lecture would have been necessary.
I think Donatella and Julian are both horrible people. Donatella for her entire existence—sure, her intentions were good—but the execution was horrible. Same with Julian. I don’t trust him. And I don’t trust five day romances either.
I probably won’t read the next book if it’s in Donatella’s perspective. I’m getting a cringy vibe with the possibility of that romance happening and I cannot. Her decisions have been bad enough, let’s go no further.
Scarlett, do yourself a huge favor and love yourself.