The story involves two sisters, Scarlett and Donatella, as they venture to a mystical show known as Caraval. Their grandmother has told them wonderful stories about Caraval when they were little, especially about its showrunner, Master Legend. Caraval is actually not just a show, but also an exclusive game glamoured by magic and mystery held once a year, offering one lucky participant the chance to win a price of a lifetime. For many years, Scarlet has been writing to Master Legend, hoping that she could persuade him and his gang to go to Trisda for a performance. Scarlett almost gave up, having received not a single response. However, prior to her arranged wedding, she receives a letter personalized by Master Legend himself, enclosed with the tickets the sisters have always wished for. Scarlett was hesitant, for she knows that her future happiness and supposed freedom from her cruel father is at risk once they leave Trisda. Tella executes a brilliant escape plan, so off they go to Isla delos Sueños, Master Legend’s private island where a magical but dangerous and deceptive game awaits.
“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . ..”
For a debut novel, Caraval has exceeded my expectations. I thought it would just be an okay-read that I would easily put down when I have important things to do, but it wasn’t, for what I experienced while reading this book was one hell of a magical adventure. It’s just full of surprises, puzzles, twists and turns that just keep readers go on and wonder. Stephanie Garber gave away vivid details in her beautiful writing that I was able to imagine things perfectly as if I was also playing the game.
I had only one complaint about the characterization in the story and it’s about Julian. Somehow in the very beginning it was obvious for me that there is something about him; that he is not just an ordinary roguish Sailor. At some point I even suspected that he is Master Legend, but then I thought that would be too cliché so I brushed off the idea. However, everything made sense in the end and I was more than satisfied with the resolution.
What I love most about Caraval is that while there is romance present, the strong relationship between two sisters is the dominant theme. It was this bond that has driven the story to the right direction. I believe that the sequel will be the same, as the epilogue dropped a hint about how it would involve the adventures of Donatella most this time. Nonetheless, I’m still looking forward to seeing more of Julian and Scarlett’s blossoming romance.
Overall, I love the experience this book gave me. It has easily become one of my favorite books that I even already ordered a hardback copy of it from The Book Depository. And oh, I’ve read that Fox has already purchased the rights to turn it into a major motion film and I’m already feeling giddy for it!
My Rating: ★★★★★