Readers all over the world were saying that if you liked The Night Circus, you would love Caraval… I loved the circus setting of The Night Circus so I was excited to read more about magical performers and I loved knowing that Caraval was about two sisters instead of two lovers. When I opened my January Fairy Loot box and saw that Caraval was the book of the month, I started reading it straight away. So yeah, this review is up 2 months after I finished the book but hey – it’s here now!
Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic, and heartbreak and she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.
So just from the blurb, you can gather that this book is about sisterhood, magic, and games. Personally, I thought Caraval was so much better than The Night Circus. The romance was better and the storyline was way better. Caraval was this gorgeous novel that sucked you right in and then spat you out again, leaving you in a mess of emotions after you’ve finished it.
The one thing that I absolutely loved about this book was that there was hardly any romance in it; Caraval concentrated on Scarlett’s love for her sister and her desperation to find Tella. The relationship between the two sisters was beautiful because they both had to save each other from their abusive father. There is a point at the beginning of the book where their father catches them doing something he doesn’t approve of and the sisters keep saying it’s the others fault so that they, themselves can get punished for it. The way it works for them is this: if the father catches Tella doing something wrong, he will punish Scarlett because he know it will kill Tella to watch her sister getting punished, and if Scarlett is caught for doing something wrong, he will punish Tella (for the same reasons). The fact that they fight over who was in the wrong because they don’t want to see the other get punished, just shows how close they are and how much they love each other and also how much they have to unite because they need to show their father that he doesn’t frighten them. I truly hated their father. He was a monster.
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
― Stephanie Garber,
With the characters, I found them to be so well written. Even though Tella isn’t really in this book, you still know exactly what type of character she is because of Garber’s exceptional writing. Garber writes in a way where she creates this amazing image of a chacracter or a setting by only writing a couple of lines. All of the characters were so three-dimensional, even the background characters. I fell in love with each and every one of them – although I progressively hated Legend more and more as the book went on.
If you follow me on Goodreads, you will know that when I was nearing the end of the book, I was setting updates like “the plot is giving me whiplash” and so on… This was because so much was going on and there was so much being revealed to us that my mind was being boggled (in a good way). I was sat on the train, coming back from university, and I was just sat there with my mouth hanging open because I couldn’t believe what was happening. The reveals in this book just make you want to explode.
This book is just so so so good; much better – in my opinion – than The Night Circus – and I think I’m going to re-read it soon because I just can’t get enough of that world. Caraval didn’t really seem like a carnival to me. It was more like a magic town and I loved that. I loved that there were different shops for different things and to pay for them, you had to bargain away strange things like a secret or a fear.
All in all, this book is just fabulous. Definitely five stars and I cannot wait for the next (and final!) book in this duology because the epulogue of Caraval just made me want to cry. Well done to Stephanie Garber for a brilliantly written debut novel about an astonishing world where anything can happen. This book is a definite must-read!