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Caraval Hardcover – January 31, 2017
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A New York Times and National Bestseller
#1 IndieNext Pick
Entertainment Weekly’s Must List (Grade: A-)
“Caraval is The Night Circus Jr., with a dash of Alice in Wonderland and a sprinkle of Fantasy Island. If blood and madness, ‘shameless curves and immoral promises’ entice you, well, come to the cabaret.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“The Hunger Games meets The Night Circus in this tale of two sisters enmeshed in a deadly game. Grade: A-” ―Entertainment Weekly
“There are elements of Neil Gaiman fantasy, Wizard of Oz, and Hunger Games killer competitiveness in Stephanie Garber’s debut. But what’s most impressive is how original her wondrous Caraval really is. Garber creates a world brimming with energy, mystery, surprises, backstabbing, and even some unforeseen romance.” ―USA Today
“Spellbinding.” ―US Weekly
“A magnificent debut, and a spellbinding tale of love, loss, sacrifice, and hope.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This twisty, terrifically fun page-turner is ideal for fans of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, Neil Gaiman's Stardust, and fantasy novels where relationships between sisters drive the plot, such as The Hunger Games. VERDICT: A must-have fantasy debut for high school collections." ―School Library Journal
“Caraval sweeps you into a treacherous and romantic world that takes center stage in this story of two sisters and their longing for more.” ―Justine
“A spellbinding tale of sisterhood, love and betrayal. I lost myself in this dangerous, enchanting world―and never wanted to come out.” ―Sabaa Tahir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember In the Ashes and A Torch in the Night
“Enchanting and mysterious, Stephanie Garber's Caraval is a story rich with sumptuous detail, beautifully written.” ―Renée Ahdieh, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn
“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
“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 And I Darken and Paranormalcy
“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
“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, critically acclaimed author of Outrun the Moon
“Stephanie Garber doesn't just dazzle―she makes me believe.” ―Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane
“Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets. Immersive and engaging . . . destined to capture imaginations.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Readers invested in the sisters’s fates (not to mention the outcome of steamy will-they-or-won’t-the? tension between Scarlett and Julian) will hang on tight and enjoy the ride. Garber’s darkly beautiful and brutal magical world is the star here, full of luscious details that invite readers to linger.” ―The Horn Book
“An enchanting mix of mystery, romance, and magic, this immerses readers in its gorgeous setting with lush prose. The setting is a captivating blend of beauty and danger . . . the chemistry between Scarlett and Julian is intoxicating. Readers will want a return ticket to this one.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Rich, vivid scene-setting and descriptions make for entertaining reading . . . a colorful, imaginative fantasy with some steamy romance for good measure.” ―ALA Booklist
About the Author
Stephanie Garber loves Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where she feels as if the fantastical stories she loves to write about could actually come to life. When she's not writing young adult fantasy, she teaches creative writing at a private college in northern California, where she’s known for turning assignments into games and taking students on field trips that involve book signings. Caraval is her first novel for young adults. She would love to hear from you on social media.
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Top Customer Reviews
I’m also a drama director, so I’m a big fan of people playing roles. If you can incorporate those roles into an interactive game—a murder-mystery dinner theatre, for example—all the more fun. During freshman orientation week at college, some friends and I wrote a three-day long murder mystery where other friends in our dorm played parts and received occasional info bursts as things were uncovered. I don’t remember if any of the incoming freshmen solved our convoluted whodunit, but it was the joy in creating the game that I remember.
Imagine me at my giddiest fanboy delight when I learned the plot of Caraval. A five-day clue-filled mystery game to solve? With MAGIC?!?! Sign me up now! And since the story is set in the time of traveling performance troupes, arranged marriages, and frilly gowns with corsets, this premise is like a hyper-interactive Renaissance Faire gone mad in the best possible way.
I don’t just want to read this book. I want to PLAY this game! Someone please send me a ticket to Caraval!
When she was younger, the book’s protagonist Scarlett Dragna wrote annual letters to Legend, the Master of Caraval, asking him to travel near her isle of Trisda so she can play. It isn’t until years later, shortly before her impending wedding—to a man she’s never met, the marriage being arranged by her abusive father the Governor—that she finally receives not one, but three tickets. One of the extra tickets is for her younger sister Donatella (Tella, for short), and the third left unaddressed.
That goes to Julian, a sailor of questionable ethics, who we first meet in what looks like a compromising position (if you know what I mean, wink wink) with Tella. He helps get the sisters to Caraval, in an unexpected manner that I won’t spoil, despite Scarlett’s protests. After all, she’s getting married shortly after the game would end, and thus wants to fulfill her father’s wishes above her own. That there is Scarlett’s biggest weakness at the start of the story, how she puts the desires of others above her own.
Scarlett is separated from Tella upon arriving at Caraval, and it is soon learned that the objective of this year’s game is TO FIND TELLA! A brilliant plot decision as it really raises the stakes and forces Scarlett to play. Not only play, but to do so with Julian, whom she doesn’t trust. And it’s a game—remember that, it’s only a game—that should not be trusted, as Legend has a shady history and previous players have gotten themselves lost in the game to the point that they’ve drastically changed.
I won’t go any further with a plot synopsis—everything I’ve said can be found in the book description—because that would spoil all the fun and danger and intrigue and surprising along the way. All the seemingly disparate plot elements—Scarlett’s family history, her impending nuptials, the history of Caraval—were all intertwined. The major and several minor characters were also well-connected in unexpected and satisfying ways. Go ahead and experience this richly detailed world and these characters that undergo both strong and surprising developments. You will question who’s a player and who’s a performer, and whether certain events and details that occur are real or fantasy, almost like you’re playing the game. I know I felt that way. Several times.
I mean, the Caraval “playing space” (for lack of a better term) is its own community with shops, taverns, and inns. I compared it earlier in this review to a Renaissance Faire, and that’s an apt analogy. There are many items to buy and tales to hear—whether as souvenirs or to advance in the game—but the prices are all magical. The last lie you told. Your deepest desire. I LOVE THAT! One shop threatens that shoplifters will be turned to stone, and there’s a statue of a supposed thief there. Did the person really turn to stone or is it a prop to add to the illusion of the game? Who knows? Who cares? These details add so much vibrant life to this world, that it was hard not to get sucked into Caraval. Remember though, it’s only a book.
But it’s a phenomenal book that I didn’t want to put down, all the way past a really shocking climax that made my heart jump and then fall. If I had to be critical—and this is nitpicky—some of the reveals about the inner workings of the game during the book’s denouement didn’t have the gasp-value I would have liked. But that’s a really minor quibble, and it’s more than made up for by the epilogue’s startling teaser for the second book.
The only thing I can imagine that’s better than reading Caraval is playing Caraval. I’d like a ticket for the five nights to solve five clues for a game—and a book—that deserves FIVE STARS.
Even though it’s still 2016, and this book comes out in January of 2017, I’m very confident in saying this is going to be my favorite 2017 read.
Cover Rating: This cover is lovely and whimsical and matches the tone of this novel really well. I cannot wait to get my hardcover edition!
Swoonworthiness: There are multiple swoonworthy characters in this book, but “mysterious sailor” Julian certainly delivers in the romantic interest department. And the end of this book hints at yet another potential swoonworthy character for the next book. (Please, PLEASE tell me there will be LOTS more books!)
Adventure Level: The world in this book is absolutely spell-binding and would be enough to keep you glued to this story on its own. However, the characters also have to solve a series of clues in order to win “the game.” These clues are by no means easy to uncover, and solving them puts the players in very intense situations that will keep you turning those pages.
Mashup: This book is The Night Circus meets The Crown’s Game but more intense. The Night Circus is one of my all time favorites because of its amazing visuals, but I loved Caraval even more. Not only does it deliver in the imagery department like The Night Circus does, but it also has an incredibly strong plot. Like The Crown’s Game, the players participate in a very high-stakes competition, but there area a lot more players in this game, and it all goes down in an even more engrossing setting.
Why You Should Read This Book: If I haven’t given you enough reasons in all of my above gushing to go and pre-order this book IMMEDIATELY, then here are a few more specifics:
The characters are likable yet flawed and constantly keep you guessing. You’ll fall in love withScarlett from the very beginning and keep rooting for her all the way through. Her sister Tella will drive you crazy and make you adore her at the same time. You’ll want to fall in love with Julian, but you know you can’t trust anyone in this cast, not during Caraval. The mysterious Legend is intriguing to say the very least and will leave you wanting more. There’s also some baddies that you will just love to hate.
Garber’s writing is just gorgeous. She brings the world, which drips with magic, wonder, and luxury, to life with her sensuous descriptions that include taste, touch, smell, and color in a way that will make you feel like you are actually there. For example:
Somehow the battered space still managed to smell like Tella. Sharp molasses and wild dreams.
The plot is done perfectly. It twists, turns, and leaves you guessing until the very end.
I simply cannot get enough of this book or recommend it highly enough. I will be anxiously awaiting my hardcover copy to get here on January 31st, so I can experience the magic all over again.
It took seven years to get the letter right.
It was about the same size as her village on Trisda, but it felt spectacularly bigger, the way a word feels bigger with an exclamation point tacked onto it.
Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.
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