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Welcome to the world of CARAVAL. It is a magical world of mischief and misdirection. Do not be fooled by what you see.

Soon-to-be-wed Scarlett is sent on a journey to Caraval, the magical game few get the chance to play. She's wanted to be a part of Caraval ever since her grandmother told her the tale of her experience. Once she arrives, though, she is sent on a mystery about the disappearance of her sister Donatella to uncover where she went. Meanwhile, Scarlett must learn the secrets of Caraval --- all while resisting the allure of sailor Julian.

By far one of my favorite elements of this book is Scarlett's change. I've always loved character development, for better or worse. It's exciting to see how the events of a book shape a character. Scarlett starts off very shy and reserved. Her father's abuse holds her back from truly enjoying life, but Caraval makes her bolder. Her changes make sense, too. She had to push her limits during Caraval to find her sister, and her personality changed as well --- for the better.

"This book is great for fans of Harry Potter and its curious Diagon Alley shops. It's great for any fan of magic and adventure with some mystery woven in."

Throughout the book, you're left with a sense of mystery. You feel as if you're not being told the whole story. As Scarlett plays the game, you waver between what might be a clue and what is definitely not a clue. You, too, are a player in the game. Things aren't what they seem in Caraval, and it made the story more exhilarating as a result. I couldn't take anything at face value. I loved that feeling of not knowing, or, rather, the feeling of uncertainty. It gave me a thrill.

While reading CARAVAL, I had to be a rational scientist and question everything. Even at the end, I still feel like we're missing something crucial. Of course, that is for the next book to explain.

Magic is amazing. With magic, nothing is impossible. You can make roses appear out of nowhere or make mirrors show the future or make a magically game. Of course, the latter happens. With all of that in mind, I must say that I love the magic in this book. Truly, nothing is impossible. You can sell secrets to get a pretty dress. Nothing is mundane. I want to explore Caraval myself. What would I find? A shop of curios or an ice parlor of doom? It's an interesting thought. The author lets you run with the magic, weaving your own Caraval adventure.

I'm interested in Legend's story, too. What is the truth? What are the lies? How did he become this person? He just wanted to impress his sweetheart. We get hints about his personality. He's crazy, for one, but he's also very clever and manipulative. A cocktail for action, that's for sure. It'll be interesting how his story is played out in the next book.

The last few chapters gave me a sour taste in the mouth. I wasn't entirely satisfied with the ending; it felt rushed and awkward. I expected a marvelous finale with fireworks and tricks, but I only got more questions. The ending was full of complicated twists and “gotcha” moments; I ended up being lost. Currently, I'm not entirely sure what happened. Who lied and who told the truth? The answer isn't clear. The motives of the main characters is even cloudier. I still want to know why Tella did what she did, and I have a feeling it'll be answered in the next book.

Throughout this review, I mentioned a second book or, at least, things I hoped for in a second book. On Goodreads, it says, in parenthesis, “Untitled #1,” so I'm assuming there will be a second book. After that finale, I really hope there is one.

This book is great for fans of Harry Potter and its curious Diagon Alley shops. It's great for any fan of magic and adventure with some mystery woven in.

Reviewed by Wren L., Teen Board Member on December 20, 2016

by Stephanie Garber