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Caraval by Stephanie Garber

January 24, 2017

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year, five-day 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 has been told over and over that everything that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed 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 . . .

I was intrigued by the idea of Caraval and having been an admirer of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, this seemed like the kind of novel that would fulfil my desire for mystery, intrigue, romance and a touch of deadly danger.
It fulfils all those criteria in spades and is so intricately and delicately written that the story seems to be woven with threads of golden gossamer.
Scarlet and her sister Donatella, are the motherless daughters of a cruel father. Scarlet dreams of running away and is so determined to leave that she will even enter into an arranged marriage with a man she’s never met.

Since childhood, Scarlet has dreamt of attending Caraval, a game of fantasy and mystery played annually in a remote location. So when she receives an invitation, she decides that this is the moment that the sisters will defy their father and flee to play the game.
When, as part of the Caraval performance, Donatella is kidnapped, Scarlet must play the game to find her sister.
Caraval is at heart a fairy tale – a battle of good and evil. Garber creates a magical world in which nothing is what it seems; no-one can be relied upon and every time you think you know what is going on, you realise you have been deceived. Knowing who to trust is much more difficult than it seems.

Caraval is a magnificent painting in which all the colours are vivid and captivating, dancing with light and glittering with dashing brush strokes. It draws you into its canvas until you realise that you are trapped within it, and then the game is to find your way out without causing harm.
A well told story, beautifully written and laden with captivating imagery, Caraval surprises with its simplicity and yet dazzles with its complexity. It is a fairy tale and a romance novel; a book full of magic and mystery, yet underpinned with a current of dark malevolence.
I loved reading it, despite its billing as a young adult novel, and am sure it will be a huge success.


Caraval is published by Hodder and Stoughton on 26th January 2017

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