Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is a book about two sisters who wanted to escape from their cruel father and to do that they throw themselves into mysterious and dangerous game of Caraval. They’ve heard the tales and legends about it and always dreamt of seeing it by their own eyes. And also, this year prize is one wish for the winner. What could go wrong?

I’ve heard a lot of good and bad opinions about this book. So of course I had to see by myself what all the discussion is about! I’m not regretting it. It reminds me a lot of Alice in Wonderland actually. When our protagonist, Scarlet, enters the Caraval everything seems to be enchanted and magical. From weird shops full of things like Protection potions to the gowns which change according to it’s own wish. And you can’t buy them with money, depending on item you can purchase them for one of your secrets, wishes, or time. It was quite mesmerizing and enchanting and a few times I was pleasantly surprised with the little plot twists.

A lot of people criticize the author for using nonsensical, evocative metaphors like: “He tasted like midnight and wind” “The world tasted like lies and ashes when Scarlett woke.” Well I’m not a huge fan of such elaborate language use but I wasn’t really bother by that. It went well with all the magical atmosphere that the author was building.

What I didn’t like was that sometimes it seems that Stephanie took some shortcuts while writing this novel. First thing is the world she created. Our characters live on some remote, isolated island and then go to another one. We’ve hear that there is some continent somewhere and that there is some empress ruling it. And that’s basically it. For me with amount of information we are given it could be as well set up in our world in Venice, as the surroundings of the Caraval are clearly not important for the book at all.

The other thing is that the reader is sometimes left in complete darkness. Somewhere at the end of the books when asked about Caraval’s magic characters replied with vague answers like: ‘well, no one really knows how or why it’s working like that, it’s just does!’ It kind of annoys me to get such answer after reading the book. As a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson and his masterful created worlds and satisfying endings I felt disappointed by that.

But it was a very pleasant and interesting read. I’ve spend a weekend with this book and was intrigued enough to read it quite quickly. I’m curious what the author will show us in the next book, Legend. If you want to read something light and quick with a sprinkle of magic, you can pick this one for sure!