By Stephanie Garber
Place a hold.
Caraval is a lavish performance. Caraval is an elaborate game. Caraval is a mystery and a fantasy where nothing is real. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t hurt you. Once a year, in a different locale, a man named Legend hosts Caraval, inviting a select few to participate in an utterly one-of-a-kind experience in which the players interact with each other and with actors to solve a mystery and win the grand prize–a granted wish.
Scarlet has dreamed of attending Caraval since she and her sister, Tella, were just girls. On her tiny island home, at the mercy of her cruel and manipulative father, Caraval seemed like a perfect escape. But an invitation never came.
Now that she is nearly grown anticipating an arranged marriage to a man she’s never met, Scarlet, Tella, and a roguish sailor are on their way to Caraval. But when Tella is kidnapped and placed at the center of the mysterious game, the dream becomes far too real and dangerous for Scarlet. She must solve the puzzle and find her sister before the nightmarish illusions of Caraval drive her mad.
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I loved the imagery, the magic and the adventure of Caraval. I can easily see why Scarlet would dream of this experience. The whole idea is exciting and a little frightening, as is the story. Parts of the tale are intricate and beautiful while others are creepy and compelling.
I heartily recommend Caraval to fans of fantasy, romance, adventure, mystery, and suspense.