Today let me introduce to you a 3-day collaboration post with my best friend, Bea @WhenCuriosityKilledTheCat.
You might be wondering why we’re doing this out of the blue, but we’ve both agreed that we need to break from our normal routine and post something other than pure reviews. We’ve planned on doing this earlier, but because of personal matters and other holdups, we kept pushing back our schedule. But now, finally, we can get this out of our systems.
(Note: We’re just using this alliance to share our fangirling over Caraval. XD)
For now, we’ll start with giving our own respective reviews of Caraval. I’ll share my thoughts about its audiobook while Bea gives hers on the paperback version. Visit her at When Curiosity Killed The Cat to know what she thinks!
Author: Stephanie Garber
Narrated by: Rebecca Soler
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: Jan. 31, 2017 by Flatiron Books
RATING: 5 stars (★★★★★)
Remember, it’s only a game…
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
Listen to an excerpt here.
Story-wise, Caraval has to be one of the most compelling plots I’ve ever come across. I was thrilled in a way I’ve never been, and to think I am not much of a fan of circuses and carnivals, this is really saying something indeed. Not only is it just a magical game, it’s an elaborate performance as well. My feelings got so easily tangled with its twists and turns. It feels as if I was being driven mad along with the main character Scarlett.
Aside from the game, it was also fun trying to figure out the other characters, especially Julian. He makes you suspicious one moment and trusting the next. Back and forth it goes, until you can no longer decide which is real and which isn’t. Same goes for the rest. Tella surprised me the most, but it was ultimately Legend who had me wondering most of the time. I waited for his appearance to come, and when it did, I was both disappointed and not. (You’ll know what I mean when you read the story.) And Scarlett – I love how far she would go for her sister. But sometimes she drives me nuts with the marriage thing and her obsession with finding her sister. I wanted her to have fun and be more adventurous. But from her point of view, I can totally understand how this may be a little difficult. Anyway, the whole cast of characters were fantastic and memorable. I love how Garber made each one of them shine – even the minor ones.
I also like the world Garber crafted for Caraval. Enchanting, magical, bizarre, whimsical and so utterly full of random surprises – it was a world that was so dizzyingly easy to lose yourself in. The descriptions were incredible to the point I can almost visualize them vividly. That’s how good Garber’s writing was.
And combine all that with Soler’s narration – you have got a masterpiece.
To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting Caraval to live up to its hype. I even tried to stay away from it like it’s a plague. Then one day, out of nowhere, I just decided to open its audiobook version and started listening. Ten seconds into the audiobook, I knew I had a winner.
I think what really gripped me first was the childhood, dream-like quality in Soler’s voice when she was emulating Scarlett, writing her first letters to Legend. That was the only trigger I needed to keep going. I was truly amazed and enthralled by Soler’s performance. There were times when her accents slip, but then she blows me away with her soulful delivery.
She made an already compelling story even more compelling; she captured the essence of each character and gave them the most suitable voice; she just —- she simply brought to life the magic of this story. As a listener, I couldn’t have asked for more.
If it weren’t for the audiobook, I never would’ve guessed how great Caraval is. Until now, even after weeks of finishing it, it still excites me to hear about anything Caraval-related. This book really made me want to grab a copy of the real thing. And to those of you who’ve already read Caraval, I urge you to listen to the audiobook as well if you want an amplified experience. 🙂
P.S. If you read and loved Caraval, you might also wanna try A Crown of Wishes by Rokshani Chokshi. It’s the sequel to The Star-Touched Queen but can still definitely pass as a standalone. It has a somewhat similar plot to Caraval. They both have a pair of characters participating in a magical game wherein the winner gets one impossible wish as a prize. But before you get any doubts, I assure you – these two books are totally unique and set apart from each other. If you still doubt me, you can go ahead and read both books and see for yourself. 😉
Thanks for reading this post, lovelies! We’ll be back tomorrow. 😉