Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
So essentially, we have the story of two sisters, trapped by their sadistic father in a life that is very unpleasant. Scarlet is the eldest, there's a sweetness to her, a belief in better things and she is determined to marry the man her father has chosen even though she's never met him. Now Scarlet might be idealistic but Donatella is anything but. She's brash, a bit flighty, and just as determined to finally be out of her father’s clutches as Scarlet is.
Once upon a time a magical performance known as Caraval entertained and amazed the select few lucky enough to see it. However, things changed and now it's a rare thing to be invited to the magical island. Scarlet has written countless letters dreaming of seeing the mysterious players perform and can't believe it when finally, invitations arrive. It's her last chance before her marriage but when the sisters arrive they are quickly sucked into a sick game not knowing who to trust.
These young women love each other so much, but just how far will they go in order to protect each other? This incredibly winding tale centers on that love but don't despair, there's one or two romantic distractions thrown in to divert the reader’s attention.
Caraval is a dark story that mystifies at times as Ms Garber throws her readers off the track. You will think you have it all worked out and still be completely wrong! Remember, it's all just a game but sometimes the stakes really are incredibly high. If you enjoy being led down the proverbial rabbit hole, then Caraval should definitely be on your "to buy" list.
Perhaps a little too young adult for me but a storyteller has been born!
These voluntary thoughts are based on an advance reader copy.