ARC Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

4/5 Stars 
Published by Flatiron Books
Published January 31st, 2017

Synopsis: Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Caraval was magical. Stephanie Garber did an excellent job crafting this world with her hands and did an even better job with her words. The experience I had whilst reading this book was whimsical, dream-like, and so mischievous. Everything about this story was intriguing - it makes you wish you were there with Scarlett. Having such high hopes going into this book, I was on the hunt for any bit of fault that would deem it not worthy of the hype it was receiving. Immediately, I was shut down. The writing in this book is flawless and the plot was so enthralling. This is a book you will not be able to put down, and better yet, a book that will keep you on edge until the last page. I am making a prediction now, that Caraval will hit the NYT Bestsellers list come January.

I was so impressed with the writing in this book. It was beautifully executed and crafted in a way that was so easy to read. The flow of words had a cadence that was smooth on your tongue, soft on your brain, and heavy in your heart. Clearly, Stephanie Garber has dabbled in the written word for quite a long time. I truly enjoyed the journey I was taken on. From start to finish, you will be brought on a well thought out adventure and feel as though you are part of the game. One of the greatest things about this book is that you'll eventually lose yourself in the magic. I loved the writing so much and found her style to be perfect to tell this story.  Stories set in Victorian era have got to be some of my favorites. I like reading authors' different portrayals of the era and seeing what they bring to the table to make it special. 

The characters in this book were interesting. Scarlett has strong will and determination, and is very hard headed. I felt as though her naivety clouded her judgment at most times, and pairing that with her anxiety over losing her sister was not the best duo. This definitely made the situation interesting, because her decisions could sometimes be rash, but I did like her as the main character. Julian was her partner throughout Caraval and serves as the polar opposite of Scarlett. He's much more experienced, which makes his motives more calculated, and therefore making him an easier character to like. I really enjoyed the supporting characters (Caraval workers) - I thought they added much needed personality to the story.

If there's one thing I did not enjoy about this book, it was the ending. I felt like the whole book built up to a giant reveal, but the conclusion was nothing of the sort. I was wowed at the ending, and kinda felt like it was a cop out. What really surprised me was that epilogue, though. booooy, I can't wait to see how Stephanie Garber integrates the epilogue into the next book. Overall, this book honestly surprised me. The writing was flawless and I can only imagine how much her writing will grow between now and the sequel. The magic in Caraval will leave you breathless. If you want a book with nonstop suspense, this is the perfect book for you.

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