Caraval is the first book of a series written by Stephanie Garber. It is a Teen fantasy book with a little bit of romance in it. I enjoyed reading this book very much. The characters and the story were captivating. I was always trying to figure out what was real and what was not, just as the main character was in the story. From the very first page, the story lead me away to another world. That is what stories are supposed to do. The story was entertaining from the beginning to the end of the book.

Scarlett is a delightful character. She is only one year older than her sister, but she feels responsible for her ever since their mother left them and their father. When their mother, Paloma, abandoned them, Scarlett thought she needed to protect Tella from their mean father. These two sisters have a very strong bond, which they will rely on throughout the story.

Caraval Synopsis

Scarlett and Donatella (Tella) have been told enchanting stories by their grandmother about Master Legend and Caraval ever since they were little girls. She explained to them how she was at Caraval and had the most beautiful dress. She also told them about the story of how Legend got his name. The sisters grew up fantasizing about what it would be like to go to Caraval.

Every year, right after their mother left, Scarlett would write Legend a letter begging him to bring his Caraval players to Trisda, the island where she lived, for her sister’s birthday. Finally, after seven years, Legend wrote Scarlett a letter back with three tickets for entrance to Caraval. Legend only responded to her once, and that was after she told him she was engaged to be married.  He ignored all of her other letters.  The three tickets were for Scarlett, her sister, and Scarlett’s fiance.

Scarlett’s father had arranged the marriage. She has not met her fiance yet. So far they had just a little correspondence with each other through letters. He seemed nice and said he had a room ready for Tella too. It was a way to get them away from their father.  Scarlett was looking forward to this marriage.  It gave her hope for a better life.

Julian, a sailor that Scarlett just met, gets the fiance’s ticket. He bargained with Scarlett that if he can have one admission to Caraval, he will get Scarlett and Tella to the isle where Caraval will perform this year. Scarlett accepts his offer.  Julian ends up pretending that he is the fiance at Caraval and helps Scarlett in the game.

Caraval: The Magical Game

Caraval is a magical place where the guests have the option to be players in the game. Upon entrance, the guests have the option to be a player or a spectator.  The players have five days to figure out all of the clues. The first one who completes the contest wins a prize, which is different each year. This year the award is a wish. After Scarlett arrives at Caraval, she finds out that Legend has kidnapped Tella. Tella is a part of the game. The person who finds Tella first wins and receives a wish.

The announcer invites each guest into Caraval with the same speech. Every guest is invited into Caraval with the same announcement.

“Welcome, welcome to Caravel! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. You can sip magic from a cup and buy dreams in a bottle. But before you fully enter into our world you must remember it’s all a game. What happens beyond this gate may frighten or excite you, but don’t let any of it trick you. We will try to convince you it’s real, but all of it is a performance. A world built of make-believe. So while we want you to get swept away, be careful of being swept too far away. Dreams that come true can be beautiful, but they can also turn into nightmares when people won’t wake up.” (page 77)

Throughout the story, Scarlett will often go back to the words that were said in this announcement to try to figure out what was happening in the game. A lot of it is not real, but it will seem very real and dangerous.

My Thoughts While Reading

Throughout the book, Scarlett and Tella’s mother, Paloma, is often mentioned. She just disappeared one day and abandoned her husband and children. Scarlett’s father did not become mean until she left. He searched everywhere for her but could not find her.

“When their mother, Paloma, had abandoned them, all the soft parts of Scarlett’s father seemed to disappear along with her. His rules went from strict to severe, and so did the consequences for failing to obey. It would have been so different if Paloma had just stayed on Trisda. Scarlett vowed she’d never leave Tella alone the way their mother had left them.” ( page 111)

In the beginning, I thought that her mother got lost in the Caraval, and maybe a wish made her father mean. However, her mother wasn’t part of the story. It was Scarlett’s grandmother that was mentioned at Caraval often. I think maybe in another book in the series, Stephanie Garber will tell the story about Paloma. I hope it will because I want to know what happened to her.

My Analysis

There were cliffhangers after almost every chapter. I thought to myself that I would read to the end of the chapter and then stop. But I couldn’t because I had to continue reading to find out what happens next.

There is a lot of action. Scarlett never knew who to trust. She didn’t know what was real or just magical. The magic works with your fears and desires. Every chapter there was a new adventure. There were no dull moments.

I didn’t keep on thinking, as I do in some novels, about the end because there are so many mysteries in this story. Scarlett doesn’t know who Julian really is. Could he be trusted? Why did Legend pick her? Is she going to find her sister? I’m enjoying every part of the story.

I was thinking at the end of the book that we would find out about their mother. I was thinking that she went to Caravel and that is where she disappeared. Did some magic happen that changed their father? This question that I had throughout the book was never answered.

I will need to read the next book in the series to find out. This was a very good book. I can’t wait until I can get the next book to continue the story.

The other two books in the series are Legendary: A Caraval Novel and Finale: A Caraval Novel. I am definitely going to read these books.

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Caraval
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