Scarlett has wanted to take her sister, Tella, to the amazing Caraval performance since they were children. Now her father has arranged her marriage, Scarlett believes this opportunity is behind her. Legend, the mastermind behind Caraval, has other ideas and sends tickets to Scarlett with an invitation. Scarlett is reluctant to go – her wedding is very soon, and it may be her only opportunity to save herself and Tella from their cruel father. With the help of a sailor, Tella gets Scarlett to the performance, only to be kidnapped shortly after arriving. Scarlett must find and save Tella within the 5 days of the performance, but how is she to do that when nothing is what it seems?
I wanted to love this book. I really did.
But I didn’t. Possibly the comparisons to The Night Circus elevated my expectations way to high.
My main issue with the book was the main character. I found Scarlett just plain annoying. We spend a lot of time inside her head, and it’s pretty whiny in there. Scarlett wants to look after Tella, but struggles to take any risks at all to do so. She wants to be saved. She wants to be looked after. Scarlett eventually (and very suddenly) finds her ability to kick arse, but this appears to be entirely linked to her intimate encounter with the love interest.Thank goodness he managed to dislodge the stick up her butt while he was down there.
The other big issue for me (which other reviewers have noted) was the lack of laws in the fantasy world. This can be good up to a point,but after that point it’s just plain confusing.
This book did a lot of stuff well. The presentation is absolutely stunning. It would look gorgeous on your shelf. The world building was also fun, grand and sweeping if you can suspend your disbelief to deal with some of the inconsistencies.
I know I’m in the minority with this review, most people seem to love it. If you like gorgeous costumes, rich fantasy worlds and damsels in distress, then this book is for you.
2.5 out of 5 .