Review: Caraval

I finished all my essays! I only have one 15000 word dissertation to do, but as I literally finished them at five, I decided to treat myself with my new YA fantasy novel, Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

First off – the hardback was cheaper on amazon than the paperback by about three quid which I have never seen before, so I have a nice shiny hardback! Which is rare for me, I’m a charity shop paperback, or wait till its released in paperback kinda girl. However, I just want a second to talk about this hardback. It. Is. beautiful.

The front is black and gold. The back is white and black. Halfway down the spine it splits

AND WHEN YOU TAKE THE DUST COVER OFF ITS EVEN MORE GORGEOUS. I must admit that when I first received this in the post I spent about five minutes just admiring the cover before I hid it to finish my essays.

Ok, gushing about my pretty new hardback is over. Here’s the review!

All her life, Scarlett has wanted to attend the magical Caraval of legend. And on the year she is to be married to a stranger, she and her sister, Tella, are sent tickets to attend. Except when they arrive at the Caraval, Tella goes missing and Scarlett is against the clock to get her back again.
Nothing is as it seems, trust nothing and no-one is the advice given when Scarlett and sailor-boy Julian arrive at Caraval. And they repeat it twice. And as a reader, you are constantly left second guessing, right up to the end. Nothing is as it seems, you never know who to trust or what information is right and what is a trick. It certainly keeps you on your toes.
As Scarlett spends more time in the Caraval, more and more seems wrong with this fantastical reality and the people inside of it. Magic has a price. Scarlett is trying to find Tella in a game devised by a magician known only as Legend. It’s also set in a Victorian steampunk alternative magical reality kinda place. Any book which starts with a map is probably going to be my kind of crazy.
The smells have colours, the colours have taste, everything is extravagant, over the top and dramatic in Caraval. Colour almost bleeds out of the page and while there is a bit of a focus on appearance, it is because appearance is important in this game: you can’t trust your eyes or any other senses. It highlights how just because someone looks pretty they aren’t automatically nice. That being said, the two sisters are pretty much an unfailingly beautiful pair and at one point Julian is described as the most handsome  man Scarlett has ever seen. That is a little cliché.
But I quite like Scarlett – she just desperately wants to save her sister and protect Tella from their father and basically life. I can get behind that. And she seems to be constantly at war between doing what is proper and safe, and taking risks. Everything in Caraval is a risk and it takes her a while to get her head round this.
But for the most part, everything is very exciting and I am planning on re-reading this soon because it only took me about three hours to read from start to finish. I also think we should let Tim Burton direct the movie version of this book – its right up his alley and he can go crazy with the psychedelics.

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