“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.”
~CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber
One of the most highly buzzed-about books of 2017 has not only just hit shelves, but has already spent two weeks sitting pretty at #2 on the New York Times Best Sellers List!!! CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber fills in the hole that THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern left behind in my heart and promises readers a breathless, enchanting ride. I've been chasing after a book like this for so long, but every single book that has a TNC comp doesn't live up to my super-high expectations. CARAVAL does. The world swept me away from the very beginning and the characters wormed their way into my heart.
How far would you go to save your sister? Sisters Scarlett and Donatella have grown up with an exacting, demanding father who isn't afraid to punish the sisters in order to keep them in line. Scarlett is desperate to free them both from his tyranny, and feels her upcoming marriage to her unknown betrothed will do that. As a child, she wrote yearly letters to the Master of the Caraval, begging the group to come to her island and perform their magical enchantments. Now, with her impending nuptials a mere week away, the sisters are finally invited to attend Caraval. Now, when there is so much to lose if Scarlett's wedding doesn't go as planned. Donatella, however, isn't about to let this opportunity slip away because Scarlett has grown too cautious and kidnaps her sister. She disappears before Scarlett can find her at Caraval, and suddenly becomes the prize. At Caraval, you can be an active participant or you can watch from the theatre balconies. When Scarlett chooses to play, she has no clue that all of the participants will be tasked with finding Donatella. In a world where you can trust no one, not even yourself because magic lies, what means will Scarlett go to in order to survive and find her sister before time runs out?
This book is so visual, it's breath-taking. You can smell the air, taste the magic, even see the swirls of color the way Scarlett does. I wanted to reach out and touch everything, and wished Caraval was a real place. Although, in some ways, I also didn't, because it's also a very dangerous, heart-breaking place. I haven't been so enamored with a world utterly enchanting me since THE NIGHT CIRCUS, and I fully embraced the experience.
I love that this book is all about sisterly bonds. Not enough books feature this, and it's always endearing when they do. I also like that the love aspect wasn't instantaneous and took a backseat to the novel's plot. I had a rollercoaster of emotions as I read the twists and turns of this novel, and while some hunches played out, others didn't. I was so happy not to have all the surprises figured out from the beginning the way I often do, which heightened my enjoyment of the novel.
It's hard to talk about everything that occurs in CARAVAL without spoilers and instead, I invite you to pick up the book and experience the world for yourself. The journey is beyond your imagination, and you won't want to let go once you hit the end. Thankfully, Garber plans one more book in the series, and you'll know the scope of its direction by the novel's end. I'm already shivering with anticipating just thinking about it!