Sometimes, I judge a book by its cover. That was definitely true when I picked up Caraval. I honestly had no idea what the story was about, but the exquisite cover convinced me to read it, and I’m glad I did, as this book now holds place of pride among my most treasured novels.
Scarlett has always dreamed of seeing Caraval, a magical “game” which takes place on an island and which requires a ticket of admission. She has heard the stories from her grandmother how exciting the game of Caraval is and naturally, wants to attend. For years she’s written letters to Caraval’s creator, Master Legend, hoping he’ll send her two tickets to the game: one for her and one for her sister. The letters always go unanswered. As the years go by, she agrees to an arranged marriage escape from her abusive father. She writes a final letter to Legend explaining that due to her upcoming nuptials, she will no longer write him. Legends finally responds with 3 tickets to the magical island where Caraval takes place and an invitation to play the game. What happens next is an amazing adventure for Scarlett and her sister!
It’s difficult to identify something I did NOT like about this book. Fantasy writers have a great challenge creating a new world in believable and clear language and weaving that world into a story that maintains its momentum. Stephanie Garber excelled at painting a beautiful picture, without creating dull passages explaining every detail. The concept and creation of Caraval was clear and concise and never left me feeling overwhelmed with description. The plot moved. The characters, lovable and humorous, are easy to root for. I enjoyed the dialogue even while trying to determine who were the good characters and who were the bad. I am a sucker for a great ending, and this book provided that in spades. With all the plot elements tied up, I wasn’t left with questions that require a second book to answer. However, Garber leaves enough intrigue for a sequel, and readers will surely be desperate for more from the world of Caraval. I can’t wait to pick up Garber’s next installment!
For ages 12 and up. This novel had some violence but no sex or explicit language. This book will definitely appeal to YA fantasy lovers and especially fans of REBEL IN THE SANDS In and THE LUNAR CHRONICLES.
CARAVAL earns 4.5 North of Normal stars.