“So not all games occur in a total dystopia and result in societal transformation? Huh.” – Katniss Everdeen, Hunger Games
When the world runs out of plots, since there are only a finite number of ways people can interact, you can still have amazing stories….. change the setting or the time or the characters or other mundane normalities of a tale and see where it leads you. That is what I was reminded of in reading Caraval. Caraval starts as a fairly typical “Brutal father; sisters trying to save each other from his wrath; forced marriage looming in the future” story. But Caraval is also the name of a five day magical event, a circus of the senses and mind and that only ever comes once to a location. It can also morph into a five day game with the potential for an immense payoff.
The hard part of this review is trying to choose a genre for this novel. It is vaguely historical novel, vaguely romance, vaguely fantasy. The easy part is telling you that although I found the story somewhat slow to start, the language, descriptions and world-building were unique and engaging. The author is gifted in building beautiful tendrils of story. I find myself wanting to describe it a bit as a fairy tale because of how conveniently all the loose threads are wrapped up in the end. I want to say that impacted the believability but the believability was already in question due to the setting. So, do I ding for that or not?
4 for reading it in a short span of time, not quite 24 hours but close
4 for story arc since I did not anticipate everything that happened. There was the framework of a traditional story (Bad father, sisters trying to save each other) but it was uniquely played out. The pace was slow at first and perhaps a tiny bit rushed at the end but generally appropriate to the story and audience.
3 for expanding my horizons as I didn’t leave with any specific questions and I didn’t feel particularly enriched. This is pure entertainment.
5 for humor/cleverness, a common plot had new life breathed into it by a unique location/event and was supported with rich language
4 for voice as the author’s rich choice of words made the world building aspect of the story for me
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***** Book Available in the Expat Library in Hardcopy – email me at expatlibrary at gmail dot com to hold it*****