Five nights.  Scarlett has five nights to play the game of Caraval and win or she may never see her sister, Tella, again.

Just a day or two ago the two sisters were united in surviving life with their abusive father.  He knew the worst punishment he could give Scarlett was to hurt Tella so when he caught the two girls in his cellar surrounded by kegs of rum and a young sailor, it was Tella he hit leaving bruises.  Scarlett could only watch.

Scarlett's plan to escape is marriage.  In ten days she will be wed to the Count who has been writing her caring, gentlemanly letters and giving her hope.  He has agreed Tella can live with them once they are married.  Both girls will escape the horror of their homelife.

But Tella has another plan.  She has convinced the young sailor, Julian, to take both girls aboard his ship and sail them to the island where a man called Legend plays his magical game...Caraval.  Both girls have longed to see Legend and be part of this pageant since their Aunt Anne told them her stories.

But, when the ship arrives at the island and Scarlett is rowed to the shore, Tella is gone.  She has disappeared into the game and now Scarlett has five days to follow the clues she is handed to solve the mystery of where her sister might be or perhaps not.

What is real? What is magic?  If someone is murdered in the game of Caraval, is that person truly dead or is it simply an illusion and part of the game?

Filled with romantic tension, this is a game of cat and mouse where even the reader can't be sure she or he knows what is true.  Fascinating and scintillating.

415 pages      978-1250095251          Ages 14 and up

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


Scarlett Dragna has been wanting to go to Caraval since she was ten.  Every year, she wrote a letter begging them to come to her tiny island so she and her sister can be enveloped in the mystery and magic that Caraval holds.  But there is no response.... And life goes on.  Scarlett and Tella have grown into young ladies under the cruel and watchful eyes of their governor father, who is heavy with his hand and empty with his heart.  Escape is something both girls want, but there is no way out.  Their father will hunt them down and the repercussions will be swift and hard. But one day changes that...

Scarlett finally receives an invitation from Legend, the man who created Caraval.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience but it couldn't come at a worse time.  Scarlett is set to make a Duke (even though they haven't met) and will leave the island and be able to shelter her sister from the horrors of their daily life.  Go or stay?

On the day she receives her invitation, circumstances force to her to go to Caraval before time runs out.  Tella and Julian, both accomplices in abducting the staid Scarlett, go to the island where the sisters are separated.  All three make it to Caraval in time, and it's as magical as Scarlett thinks...but also more dangerous than she does. When she enters into Caraval, little does she know what she is getting into.  Thoughtful, staid, practical Scarlett quickly finds herself in conflict with not only her surroundings, but also the relationships she has with both her sister and the enigmatic Julian. People aren't what they seem....don't always believe what you see...Caraval is as beautiful as it is dark.

Garber writes magic into this book not only through the plot but also with the beauty of her writing and words she chooses.  This book paints a vivid picture not only of the characters' real lives, but also the fantasy world people wish to get lost in.  Scarlett is a sharp contrast to the other characters, which adds to the depth of the relationships found in this novel and it reads quickly.  The story behind Caraval is enchanting and Garber instantly grabs the readers attention with her unique use of letters at the beginning of this novel.  Readers will be as captivated with Caraval as the characters.  This is the type of fantasy book I've been waiting for!!  Recommended for upper junior high and high school.

Recommended by:  Naomi Bates, Library Media Specialist,Texas USA

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Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world...

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.--from the publisher

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