Caravel by Stephanie Garber. Flat Iron Books, 2017.
Blurb from Amazon: Overview
Caraval (Caraval Series #1) by Stephanie Garber
The acclaimed New York Times bestseller! Welcome, welcome to Caraval—Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of the unbreakable bond between two sisters. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world…
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.
My review: Tella has been all Scarlett has for all these years since their mother disappeared. Their father keeps them imprisoned on the island and threatens bodily harm if either tries to escape. As the arranged marriage for Scarlett draws near, an invitation to a live performance game put on by Legend. Rumor has it that their grandmother once took part in the game. Another rumor is that Legend wanted to be the best magician in the world, so he made a bargain. He could only be this or have the woman he loved. He thought if he was one, he could easily have the other, but he found out she married another while he was away. When he rejected her, she threw herself from the balcony. Now, it’s said that he will do anything to stop the wedding of her descendant’s.
When Scarlett finds Tella missing, she tries to make a bargain with the sailor she was last seen with, but Julian’s already made a bargain with Tella, to get them both off the island. This accomplished, he wants to be part of the game Scarlett has tickets for. She tries to go it alone but finds she needs him. The first day or Caravel arrives, and they must be inside the hotels before sundown. Never mind that they can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t. Julian doesn’t make it, but Scarlett tells the hotel lady that she and Julian are special guests and so gets him in. From there, Scarlett figures she has three days to find her sister and return for the wedding she thinks will save them from her father. She finds the first clue and discovers that Tella is the prize for the game and she has five days to find her or she’ll disappear forever.
I LOVED it! The twists and turns keep you guessing. It’s kind of like a mystery that involves magic. You don’t know what’s real and what isn’t any more than the characters do. Julian and Scarlett who he calls Crimson are magical together. The plot is interesting and fun. Although at times, it’s very heartbreaking. I’ve never read a book quite like this, kudos to Stephanie Garber for pulling it off! Book Two, Legendary, has just come out so I will have to look into that as well.