Goodreads Synopsis: 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.My Review: Considering this was a debut novel, it was not at all bad, but there were definitely parts the author could have written better. For example, in the beginning the writing is not descriptive enough; while I was reading it felt like I was skimming the book simply because there weren't enough details to understand Scarlett and the world she was living in. Also, Scarlett's problems are solved very soon; for example, she dreams a certain person might be Legend, and instead of waiting and acting suspicious around them, she just confronts him right away. Scenes like so could have been written with more detail to add more depth to the characters and enhance the plot.
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.
I also wasn't a fan of Scarlett or Julian; both seemed very one-dimensional and hypocritical at times. Tella was more of an interesting character, but as she was kidnapped, I didn't see too much of her.
The mystery was alright, but I don't see how other characters would have found the answers to clues like Scarlett did (since she found most clues pretty randomly and half of the time she just guessed that found a a clue even if she wasn't sure she had). Although, after reading the ending, I suppose the clues were designed for Scarlett anyway. Still, they were too random to be realistic (ex she asks a man to read her fortune and he gives her a clue, but what if she had never gone to see him?).
I was also confused on how the magic worked; sometimes Julian explained that performers were behind everything, and then he'd say the island had its own magic.
***MINOR SPOILERS BELOW***
Wow, the story really was true to the fact that everything is a performance. I didn't really understand the point of what Tella did (I think she mentions that she never meant for their dad to find out, which doesn't make much sense because I thought she wanted Scarlett to leave their dad and never go back?), but perhaps I need to reread the ending.
Overall, I give the story 3 stars. Though the magic and carnival were interesting, the story didn't blow me away.
Have you read Caraval or any fantasy-slash-mystery novels recently? What are your thoughts? Tell me below!