Caraval is Stephanie Garber’s debut YA novel. Set in an alternative world, it focuses on the main characters Scarlett and Donatella, two sisters who are desperate to get out from their father’s tyrannical control.
Scarlett is planning on getting to get married to a mysterious Count in order to free herself and her sister from their father’s control. But then all of a sudden their invited to the mysterious Caraval, a game/carnival which Scarlett has been trying to wrangle an invite too for years. But now with her wedding looming the timing isn’t great.
Somehow though the two sisters end up there. That’s when everything starts going wrong. Donatella is kidnapped and made a part of the ‘game’ and Scarlett is sent on a dangerous chase to find her sister before the game’s nefarious organiser ‘Legend’ does something awful to her.
I liked the concept of this novel a lot. Mysterious carnival game, evil intentions it seemed to have it all. But I didn’t really engage it with it as much as I expected to in all honesty. I liked it but it didn’t hold my attention enough. The characters were quite underdeveloped and I felt that it tried to hard to involve lots of different things all at once so that I was finding my concentration was drifting.
The world isn’t fully developed either, we have no real idea of where it is, it’s clear it’s supposed to be an alternative world as the islands all have names the reader have never heard of and the dress of the characters are different to modern day and more like the 1800s, but beyond that we know nothing about it or the time it’s supposed to be set on. While I didn’t dislike the novel I felt that the lack of development on both characters & world really let it down.