- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; 01 edition (31 Jan. 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1473629144
- ISBN-13: 978-1473629141
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.6 x 24.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 305 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Caraval: the mesmerising Sunday Times bestseller Hardcover – 8 Sep 2016
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With CARAVAL, Stephanie Garber spins a spellbinding tale of sisterhood, love and betrayal. Like her characters, I lost myself in the dangerous, enchanting world she created-and never wanted to come out. (Sabaa Tahir, author of New York Times bestseller Ember In the Ashes)
Enchanting and mysterious, Stephanie Garber's CARAVAL is a story rich with sumptuous detail, beautifully written. (Renée Ahdieh, New York Times No.1 bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn)
In a book where nothing is at it appears, one thing is certain: CARAVAL is the darkly enchanting adventure you've been looking for! (Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of Paranormalcy and And I Darken)
Intoxicating. Darkly magical. CARAVAL walks the knife-edge between fantasy and reality. Within mere pages, I gladly lost myself in this perfect labyrinth of a plot. Stephanie Garber doesn't just dazzle-she makes me believe. (Jodi Meadows, author of The Incarnate Trilogy and The Orphan Queen)
A tale of sisterly devotion painted in colors of cerise and shimmering gold. If you ever wondered how it would feel to step into a living dream, here's your ticket. (Stacey Lee, author of Under a Painted Sky and Outrun the Moon)
A decadent and enchanting tale. CARAVAL will sink its teeth into you, and you will not want to leave. (Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen)
CARAVAL shimmers with magic. This is an inventive, delightful tale with several aces up its sleeve. (Marie Rutkoski, New York Times bestselling author of the Winner's Trilogy)
[A] magnificent debut novel . . . intriguing characters, an imaginative setting, and evocative writing combine to create a spellbinding tale of love, loss, sacrifice, and hope. (Publishers Weekly)
I love this novel . . . It's a thing of beauty and the stuff of dreams. (Cecelia Ahern)
Like the Carousel of Roses at the heart of the party, the language is colourful, giddy and with the occasional barb.And like a fairy story, CARAVAL reveals dark truths behind a playful, glittering surface. (Daily Mail)
Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite as it seems. A mesmerising, magical and stunningly imaginative debut novel for anyone who loved The Night Circus and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.See all Product description
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The Hunger Games comparison is also off the mark - it's not exciting or page-turning in the way that novel was. Scarlett, the main protagonist, has to follow clues once she reaches Caraval in order to find her sister and, in doing so, win the game (and a wish) but there's nothing really clever about the clues, nor is there the sense of nail-biting danger that filled the pages of The Hunger Games.
Scarlett herself was a pretty wishy-washy heroine, quite reliant on other people (particularly men) to save the day, guide her, reassure her etc. In fact, the biggest niggle for me was her relationship with Julian which read more like Mills & Boon than good literary fiction. The romance element in the Night Circus was clever, subtle and never cheesy. It's the total opposite here - to the point where I wondered if I was reading YA fiction. It may be, I'm still not sure.
I can see that the author has tried to create a magical world but nothing was built up fully enough to fill me with the sort of wonder or awe novels like Lev Grossman's The Magicians trilogy or Phil Pullman's Dark Materials have. For example, there's a scene in a clock shop towards the start of the novel that felt like it could have been the beginning of something - but it was over before it began, and neither the shop (nor any of the items in it) were revisited. Some of the descriptive writing also felt forced - like Scarlett's emotions being described as colours. It didn't add much to the novel and became a bit annoying after a while; especially as that wasn't really developed either.
I find it difficult to pinpoint exactly why this novel fell short for me. All I can say is that I found it very readable but wasn't rushing to pick it up. I was never consumed by the world of Caraval. But, equally, I didn't dislike it. And I would give the next book in the series a go.
One final word - this is a pig of a book to read on a Kindle. There are a number of notes in there (especially at the start) and even when you click on the 'zoom' option on the Kindle, the writing is still tiny. I actually made myself quite ill trying to read it on a bus! So, maybe this is one for the bookshelf as the cover is certainly very beautiful.
I really love the magical element of this book. Legend, the showman behind Caraval if you like, is utterly mysterious in identity but also in his tricks. There are all sorts of wonderfully fantastical things happening all the time throughout this book, with Legend pulling the strings behind them all. I also liked the element of chase - it feels so intense to read this book because you are racing against the clock with Scarlett, almost figuring out Legends cryptic clues with her. I liked that the author included letters within the book to build up what these clues looked like (and you could flick back to the clues easily this way if you needed a recap).
My only reservation was that I found Scarlett a little bit difficult to connect with. She isn't the most exciting or unique of personalities considering how inventive the world building is, and I just found her a little bit boring; equally she often made silly decisions under pressure which made me feel irritated at her lack of rational thought. I also didn't feel that bothered about what the outcome might be for her sister - we don't get much chance to get to know her, or to love their relationship, and as such it was more about the timescale of exciting events than the eventual prize for me. However, this is easily forgiven because of how excellent the world building is. The writing style does also fall slightly into the purple prose theme, which I liked for this kind of plot, but incidentally it isn't for everyone.
A really fantastic, mind-boggling adventure through a magical, crazy place. Definitely a book I'd recommend.
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