Reviewed by: Beth
Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
Scarlett and her sister Tella live with their father, a brutal man ever since their mother disappeared years ago. He has killed when people did not do just as he desired. He does not shy away from beatings of the girls, usually attacking the sister who didn’t make him angry, in order to try and use their loyalty to each other as a lever. Scarlett has spent her life dreaming of Caraval—a magical performance that only happens once a year, and the participants are the audience. When she and her sister end up there, she finds that Caraval is more than just magic—it is real…and it can be deadly.
The setting was interesting, as so much of it revolved around secret tunnels and magical items. Think circus, but a whole town made up that way. The descriptions are colorful and lively, and really manage to bring the place to life. Places change from hour to hour, and items can be purchased with secrets…or with even more macabre ways.
The characters were interesting—my favorite being Julian, the sailor who took the girls off their island and to Caraval. Scarlett was decent, though a bit annoying in her continual fear of breaking out of her box. Tella didn’t feature as much in this book as I would have thought, so that makes me wonder if she will be the focus of book two. However, some of the most important parts revolve around her. Legend, who I would have thought would be a bigger presence in the book, was notable for his mysterious absence. Regardless, the characters were pretty well drawn out, and were certainly human in their motivations.
This definitely has a romance, though I shan’t give away who romances whom within the story. As is usually the case, it is a rocky event, and by “rocky,” I mean death may be involved. Overall, I enjoyed the story and would certainly want to finish the duology with the second book. While there was definite closure to this part of the story, there is also a cliffhanger that yearns to be solved. And how it shall be solved is just one more bit of the mystery and magic that is…Caraval.
Sexual Content: None