Series: Caraval #1
Author: Stephanie Garber
Scarlett Dragna has always dreamt of attending Caraval. From stories told by her grandmother, Scarlett believes that Caraval is a magical and mystical game, masterminded by the reclusive but powerful “Master Legend”. Caraval promises the winner their hearts desire but warns them strongly not to loose themselves in the magic of the game. However, Scarlett’s chances to attend are almost over as she is soon to be married. Her overbearing and abusive father has arranged to wed her off to an unknown Duke. Until a personal invite from Legend himself arrives.
With help from the enigmatic sailor Julian, Scarlett’s Sister Donatella, whisks Scarlett away to Caraval. The game turns sinister when Legend kidnapp’s Tella, taunting Scarlett and making Tella the prize at the end of the riddle filled maze that is Caraval. Scarlett is forced to solve all of the Legend’s clues facing his obsticles and navigating the magic of Caraval with all the treachery and heartbreak that brings.
Unfortunately none of the characters have any real depth to them. The story is told from Scarlett’s perspective but she never really focuses on anything. She is constantly floating from one worry to the next that nothing becomes established. Her wedding, her sister, her love interests, how revealing her dress is all pass through her mind but she only seems capable of focusing on one aspect at a time, forgetting the all the others. Unfortunatly she is also the only character whom we get to learn anything about. Julian, her companion during Caraval, changes persona so many times over the course of the book that we only really know his name by the end and Tella is none existent in the narrative apart from being the prize at the end of Legend’s treasure hunt. Legend himself is the only character I really enjoyed, he is kept a mystery and teases us about who he is which nicely leads into Legendary.
The ‘Villians’, the girls father and the betrothed Duke, also left me look warm. They really did not pose much of a threat and detracted from the corrupted nature of Legend and Caraval. All in all everyone was just so so.
I have to say I have always been in two minds about this book. I don’t mind the flowery descriptions used by Scarlett and I did somewhat enjoy the stroyline running through the underside of Caraval. Some of the most endearing characters were featured as small parts of the game . The rest just frustrates me. The novel attempts to create a wonderful, magic filled slightly dangerous game but fails to actually produce any world-building. It just leaves me feeling short-changed. I wanted to be immersed in the world of Caraval and experience its magic. Instead i was just given short sharp snippets. I wanted more. So while I thought it was a fun read and did enjoy the book, I still left it without the wonder it seemed to promise.
Series: Caraval #2
Author: Stephanie Garber
This time its Donatella’s turn to play the game. Carrying straight on from book one we follow Tella as she dives headlong back into a special Caraval. It is the Queen’s birthday and she has commissioned Master Legend’s Caraval to start the celebrations in style. Despite her sisters protestations, Tella has to play to repay a debt owed to the mysterious criminal that was responsible for originally getting Scarlett to Caraval. The price he demands? Legend’s true Identity. So we return to Caraval.
This time the story is told from Tella’s point of view and it is mildly more interesting than Scarlett’s. Tella is more adventurous and throws herself into the middle of danger eagerly. She was also disappointing as she failed to learn from the previous game of Caraval. She made the same mistakes and moved herself into some very
We have the return of Scarlett and Julian but they play a lesser role overall. The saving graces in terms of characters are Dante and Jacks. Unlike in Caraval these two were given more grounding in the story, had some complexity to them and were interesting to read about. Dante ultimately played the same roll and Julian did for Scarlett, guiding her through the game so she would inevitably win over all others participating (which is a bit disappointing when you know the outcome from the beginning). However his dark and brooding attitude plays better with Scarlett’s recklessness. Jacks holds the only real magical elements of the book. He is a great character, a deliberate trouble maker that can compete with legend in dark intentions. Ultimately the combination of these two made this a different read from the first books.
Again I wanted more. Again we have a world with no world building. We got snippets of a fantastically interesting city with districts each with their own stories and mysteries that are hinted at but never told. We don’t actually get anything of the game but the hand held parts the Tella sees. We do have more moments of the magic but again we get beautiful snapshots that are not enough to satisfy. The plot twists are unfortunately somewhat predictable. however the romance is sweet. The love triangle is interesting and the set up for the future Finale is enticing. Legendary is an enjoyable and quick read.
Overall these books are enjoyable. They are not my favourites but not every book can be. While they do leave me with a disappointing feeling of missing out on the world within by not letting me explore it, I still like the story and the confusion of the game. I will continue with the series just to answer the questions left in Legendary.