Caraval by Stephanie Garber

4 stars

Reviewed by Makenna.

Set in a fantasy world where magic is possible, Caraval is a story full of mystery, twists, romance, and sisterly love. It is well-written, with very colorful descriptions that give the reader a vivid image of what the characters are seeing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. The main character sees her emotions in bursts of color, which, while unique, is very effective in conveying her feelings. Scarlett is a good example to her much more impulsive younger sister, Tella. She is responsible and level-headed, intent on saving her sister from the hands of the mysterious Caraval master, Legend. The story is interesting and not as straight-forward as it may first appear. Violence comes in short bursts and is not described down to the gory details. Romantic interaction is kept relatively tame, with a few kisses shared and, at one point, more is imminent but it does not occur. Language is equally tame, with only a couple of instances, if that. Positive messages include loyalty and love of the family, courage, and selflessness. Betrayal and uncertainty abound, hiding behind the facade of Caraval's motto: "Remember, it is only a game". The consequences of the characters' actions are very real, however.

Over all, the story is very interesting, well-written, and, while at times the fantasy world of Caraval can be confusing, the magic of Caraval is in the mystery. It is unique and sometimes strange, and caution is advised for readers younger than thirteen.

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