Review of Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Roll up roll up to the world of Caraval, a game where nothing is ever as it seems but if you succeed you can make your greatest wish come true! For Scarlett, she has been writing to Caraval Master Legend for many years, hoping that he will bring his players to her Isle of Trisda so she can experience the joy and wonder her Grandmother’s stories told her about.   When her final letter see’s an older Scarlett informing Legend that she is about to marry, a pre-wedding gift arrives in the form of tickets to Caraval!  One for her, her sister Donatella and Scarlett’s fiance, who by the way she has never met….  Her father is a cruel man and Scarlett see’s the opportunity for marriage as a way to escape, which won’t happen if she attends Caraval. But her sister and the young sailor, Julian, have other plans!

Sailed away to Master Legends Island, Scarlet must play the game of Caraval and the stakes are higher than she ever thought.  Not everything is real and everything has a price, can Scarlett complete the game and get back to Trisda before her father knows she has gone and before her wedding day?  Or will the secrets of Caraval pull her in too deep?
I went into Caraval a little sceptical, I had heard mixed reviews from friends but I wanted to love it as the story sounded amazing, thankfully I wasn’t disappointed.  In a book where I was constantly told that not everything is real I found myself second guessing everything, trying to figure out the clues along with Scarlett.  The Caraval itself is wonderful and vibrant but yet a little sinister if you scratch the surface, I almost felt transported to a Victorian era where the currency is secrets rather than coin.  There are a ton of twists in this tale and I have to say that I struggled a little to keep up at times.  My only quibble is that it did get quite ridiculous as the story progressed and I was longing for a little stability in the story.  There are however, some genius bits that I loved especially around some of the forms of payment.

I found it a struggle to put this down, for the most part it was the kind of read that I didn’t have to think about as I flew through the pages and apart from the odd moments of wading through treacle I found myself utterly caught up in the world, my heart racing against the clock just as Scarlett’s did.   I would totally recommend giving this a read, it’s not 100% up to the hype, but I’m glad I read it and I think it may end up in that rare pile of books that I have that I would want to read again!

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