Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Rating – 4/5

“Scarlett and Tella have 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. When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations 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 has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is an elaborate performance. But she quickly becomes entangled in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.”

This one of my most anticipated reads for this year. It sounded a lot like The Night Circus which is one my favourite books so I was really excited to get stuck in and it did not disappoint. The idea of Caraval is really unique – I got a Wonderland vibe from the setting, especially at the beginning when Scarlett and Julian first arrive on the island. I think this would make a really vibrant and interesting film.

I didn’t find this book as magical as The Night Circus but I did still really enjoy it. The writing was excellent and the characters were vibrant – I really liked Julian (despite never really knowing who he was) and Scarlett grew on me as a character. It was interesting to see their relationship develop and blossom, as well as Scarlett’s relationship with Tella and how this changes throughout the book. This book constantly surprised me and I could never guess what would happen next.

Unfortunately, I found it a little difficult to imagine the world that Stephanie Garber created. The magic wasn’t as spectacular as I thought it was going to be and the abuse the sisters’ face from their father made me a little uncomfortable, especially when he turned up at Caraval.. I understand that the abuse is an incentive for the sisters to leave Trisda but it did make me a little uncomfortable.

I do recommend this book for fans of The Night Circus and fantasy in general (although do be warned that some of the themes may be uncomfortable for some readers).

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