Series Name: Caraval, #1
“He’d never stared at her like this before. Sometimes he gazed at her as if he wanted to be her undoing, but just then it was as if he wanted her to undo him.”
Scarlett Dragna has lived her whole life on a tiny island with her sister Tella and their cruel father. Scarlett’s only hope to escape her father’s clutches is her arranged marriage to a mysterious Count who she has never met. Scarlett knows that this marriage will give her the freedom that she has always yearned for, but it also means that her dreams of attending the once-a-year Caraval games are over. However, days before her wedding Scarlett receives three tickets to Caraval from Legend, the mastermind behind the games. Scarlett knows she should not attend Caraval because it will only anger her father and jeopardize her marriage to the Count. But Tella and a mysterious sailor have other plans and whisk Scarlett away to Caraval. Upon arrival, Tella is kidnapped and becomes the prize that players must find to win the game. Scarlett knows that everything that happens within Caraval is an elaborate performance and not real. But the longer she is in the game, the harder it is to tell what is real and what is not. Scarlett soon finds herself tangled in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic.
This book was a real page-turner, and it was so easy to get swept into the dazzling world of Caraval. The amount of detail that Stephanie put in this book was remarkable. I could visualize every building, costume, and character so vividly in my mind. This book has an Alice in Wonderland and Once Upon Time feel to it. I kept on hearing Rumpelstiltskin’s voice in my head saying, “All magic comes with a price, deary.” I love how nothing was ever what it seemed to be. It kept me guessing and wondering what was going to happen next.
Scarlett is such a fabulous heroine for this story. She is thoughtful, kind, and loves her sister so much. I found myself relating to her when it came to being the protective older sister and feeling this constant weight of trying to keep your younger sibling safe from the dangers of the world. It is not an easy job being the eldest! I also really enjoyed how Scarlett described the world and people around her by connecting them with colours. It added a lot of richness to the story.
There is a love triangle in this book between Scarlett, Julian, and the mysterious Count. There are some predictable elements to this triangle, and readers will predict who Scarlett ends up with pretty early in the book. But I enjoyed reading the interactions between Julian and Scarlett and their relationship is an enemy to lovers trope, which is one of my favourites.
I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the next book Legendary.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber is a spellbinding adventure with magic, romance, and a story that will keep you guessing right to the very end.