Thanks to Netgalley I was able to read “Caraval” and my senses are singing!
I’m frustrated when a book is compared to one that has already enjoyed great publishing success or that has clearly captured many reader’s hearts (like the three or so years when everything was “the next ‘Gone Girl’”) but I do appreciate discovering a book that fills a special niche or scratches that certain storytelling itch.
For me, magic falls into both those categories, and in the case of “Caraval” it tickles the same senses that so adored “The Night Circus”. This book is not like “The Night Circus,” I want to make sure I’m clear that I’m not drawing comparisons, but for those of us who delight in magic, in mystery, in opulent colors, textures, and scents, then this is a book that is going to enchant you.
There is a wonderfully cinematic quality to the story, though some of that is owed to my watching television shows and movies like Westworld and The Game, where you are uncertain what is scripted, what is not, and what sort of great mythology is at work behind the scenes.
“Caraval” is at the heart of things, about deciding to do more than simply survive, and to instead, live a vibrant life full of choice.
Scarlett and her younger sister, Tella are at the mercy of their abusive father, something that Scarlet hopes to save them from in accepting an arranged marriage.
When years of unanswered letters to Legend, the master of the magical performance called “Caraval” finally yields a response and tickets to the show, Scarlett is unwilling to attend and jeopardize her upcoming marriage.
When her sister forces her hand and they end up on the island where the show will take place, Scarlett is enchanted by the colors and magic of the place but unwilling to sink into the experience until Tella is kidnapped and becomes the center of the game that the Caraval performance is built around.
Scarlet partners with the charming and handsome Julian to make sure that she gets Tella back, but as she spends more time in Caraval she realizes that everything has a price, some more devastating than others, and despite being told that everything is just a game, too many things happen for Scarlett not to feel that the game has become personal.
I read the book in a few hours, desperate for the dark and twisting adventure to continue, and yet hoping that somehow that dwindling page count was a lie and that there was still more story to savor. And in a way there is. As the book is listed as #1 in an anticipated series on Goodreads, I’m not spoiling anything by saying that Garber teases at more story to come.
Full of gorgeous scenery and the kind of magical ideas that make you wish you could disappear into the pages and see the bottles of elixirs, the shimmering dresses, and the architecture that defies the limits of science, this is escapism in it’s most beautiful form.
This is the kind of book you want when you are looking to leave the grey skies of winter, and instead climb under a toasty blanket, pick up a book, and become thoroughly transported, which makes it your perfect January 2017 read.
If you're looking for more magical goodness, visit Stephanie Garber's website where you can also see the Pinterest board she created for the book!
And book candle fans may want to get their hands on a Legend candle from The Melting Library.