Caraval: sisters’ journey in more ways than one

by Lilly Combs/Staff Writer

This book begins with two sisters who live on a tiny island ruled by their father.  They have been trapped in this kingdom for their whole lives thanks to their abusive father.  The two sisters always had a dream that they could leave their horrible island behind and go to Caraval.  Caraval is a magical once-a-year performance.

Scarlett the older sister has written to the owner of Caraval many times before but has never gotten an answer back.  Finally, a week before her wedding she gets a letter inviting her fiance, sister, and her to attend Caraval. Little do they know that this was all planned by the games master.  Scarlett worries about getting in trouble if she left the island, so she declines the offer and tells her little sister that it is not safe. Scarlett’s little sister Tella, unfortunately has a different plan.  She along with Julian drugs Scarlett and they throw her on a boat with them.

They get to Caraval and Scarlett realizes, along with Julian that Tella is missing.  They later find out that this is all part of the “fictional” game. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance, and that she shouldn’t get to caught up in the game.  Julian, Tella’s friend, sticks with Scarlett while she tries to find Tella, and win the game.

Scarlett is an unusual heroine for this historical fantasy novel.  Tella seems like the better fit for the heroine stereotype. She is strong, independent, and has a rebellious spirit.  Scarlett lacks all of these characteristics. Scarlett is proper and prim. In this story, readers can see Scarlett grow and develop stronger characteristics and independence.  

This book is about the love between two sisters and what they would do for each other.  It also deals with getting through the challenge of abuse and how to face it.

The theme in Caraval was hard to grasp; I would have liked it to be clearer.  I also wanted to see from Tella’s point of view, not just Scarlett’s. It would have been more interesting if we could see their different paths unwind at the same time.

Overall, the novel Caraval is very interesting and a good fictional read.  It is very descriptive and emotional.