My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.
I probably should have stopped reading when I realised I wasn’t enjoying it, but I’d seen so many rave reviews that I felt I had to push on.
Sadly, the book felt like such a wasted opportunity. I really liked the concept of the Caraval game but spent the whole book being too frustrated at the main character to properly appreciate it. Reflecting on the ending, specifically Tella’s involvement with the planning of her kidnap, the story has such a good premise but was just poorly executed.
One of the elements I found interesting was the main character sees emotions as colours. I’ve always been very intrigued by synesthesia and suppose the author must be too, but it didn’t really improve the story much for me.
When the character DeEngl showed up I wanted to physically throw the book. Perhaps it’s just me, but an anagram (for Legend, the infamous Master of Caraval) just seemed so condescending. But I’d already had way too much at this point.
Ending on a positive note, I did enjoy Scarlett’s shapeshifting enchanted dress.