By: Stephanie Garber
I am back today to bring you all a review of one of the most original and enthralling circus books that I have ever read, Caraval by: Stephanie Garber. This book is a combination between Survivor the television show and the circus of your dreams! This book follows two sisters Donatella and Scarlet as they fight to flee their abusive father by way of Caraval. Caraval for many years has stopped travelling and occupied the Isle that it is currently on, this Isle is far from civilization and is shrouded in mystery since only those with an invitation can experience Caraval. Scarlet has been fascinated by Caraval since she was a child with her grandmother telling her stories of the grandeur and opulence of Caraval, so she writes Legend (ringmaster of Caraval) weekly until one day she receives a set of tickets to attend. These tickets are where the book begins to pick up momentum and fully pulled me into the depths of its pages until I was done.
Caraval does have many aspects of magic and mystery behind how everything runs, however I believe that there are two unique and engaging ideas that Garber employs within this novel. The first object of magic and scenery that Garber captures is balconies, yes you heard me, balconies. In this world you can either creepily watch the game from above in these vast balconies or you can participate in Caraval, which is what Scarlet and Donatella do. The imagery of these high treeline balconies had me captivated with the thought of them; balconies also serve later in the story as an ominous reminder of the past which gave me mixed emotions since I was captivated by them but grew to fear them. The second object of pure genius that Garber weaves into this story is the clothing. Scarlet, the main character, has dresses throughout that shift forms and materials on their own based on her mood which to me is mind boggling! All the players of Caraval have opulent and spectacularly well described clothing, this book made me realize just how plain my style is. If I could Cosplay as anyone I think I would choose Dante as he has great clothing and my mental image of him is probably the clearest out of all the male characters. Garber also manages to blur the line of fantastical and reality seamlessly within this novel which further heightens the mystery that they are trying to solve in Caraval's game.
This book takes the wonder of your favorite circus and childhood memory and tips it on its head and sends it shooting into space! Garber has outdone herself with this book the themes of abuse and love were handled well within the pages which is often not done by a debut author. The writing style that is featured within this book is not particularly lyrical or beautiful, however that being said this book will take you on a journey you will never forget as you explore the details of Caraval. In the end I found this book to be incredibly fast paced, engaging, and an overall joy to read with some kick ass main characters and a crazy circus mystery to solve!
I will eagerly be waiting to see what Garber writes next, hopefully it is another book in this universe, however if this were left to be a standalone I would be perfectly satisfied.
During this Cozy Reading night I read a majority of Caraval, watch this to see my thoughts as I proceed through the book. No spoilers are present in this video.