With the recent release of Legendary, the sequel, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and polish of Caravel- a novel that screams the enchantment of The Night Circus but is stuffed with more action, adventure and even more plot twists.
This circus-esque novel follows two sisters in their attempts to flee from their abusive father by entering a dangerous yet enchanting game- Caravel, a travelling circus where the main attraction is watching half the audience attempt to solve clues to win a prize. This years prize: a wish.
“He’d heard every person gets one impossible wish—just one—if the person wants something more than anything, and they can find a bit of magic to help them along.“
But when older sister Scarlett enters this mystical game, in the hope of winning the wish and escaping her abusive father, she soon finds the price for playing is higher than she realises and the game more deceptive than she thought.
Caravel is a light and easy to read YA fantasy that hooked me in from page one. With rumours and half truths flying left right and centre, all covered by the dazzle of Caravel, the book is well paced, intriguing and well written. I particularly enjoyed following our guarded main character, Scarlett, as she attempts to make sense of the game that has swallowed her plans and sent her future spiralling out of her grasp.
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything”
The descriptions in Caravel are sparse and delicate, one of my few critisms I have of this novel. Each chapter is dotted with intricate detail, as I’d expected, from describing the buttons and bows that adorn Scarlett’s dresses to the strong perfumes of a potion stand. The writer included a lot of finer details to embellish the plotline.
But I was struggling to picture Caravel in all it’s glory. For a girl who has dreamed of visiting the game all her life, Scarlett does very little adventuring of her own. The reader doesn’t get elaborate descriptions of the circus or how others are playing, Scarlett only tries foods when she must and only explores what is required by the plot. The book felt a little short, it could have easily been bulked out with a few more descriptions of the glamouress Caravel and the unimaginable sights that were too often mentioned but not shown without detracting too much from the plot.
However, this is a minor detail. And although the lack of description of Caravel itself annoyed me a bit it does keep the plot quick and fast paced- a feat I know many readers would enjoy. It is gripping and what descriptions there are are certainly not lacking.
“Every touch created colors she had never seen. Colors as soft as velvet and as sharp as sparks that turned into stars.“
Caravel’s plot is as straight forward as the game the novel is named for. As Scarlett second guesses each and every half truth she is told so does the reader, and the confusing mixture of clues our protagonist receives are somewhat difficult to follow and even harder to spot. But with the insistence that Caravel is “only a game” and Scarlett’s tentative nature of second guessing each action or motive the twists and turns embellish a story that is clearly better explained than guessed.
“It’s better this way, sister. There’s more to life than staying safe…”
The sisterly bond between Tella and Scarlett was refreshing in YA. More often do characters act out of romantic love or spite in this genre and it was nice that this novel touched on a new motive. Although we do see Scarlett’s motherly nature towards Tella, a relationship similar to that of Katniss’s and Prim’s, we also see that they are friends and catch glimpses of their childhood where they played games and heard stories together. This adds a soft edge to Scarlett’s otherwise seemingly reserved and nervous character.
I would recommend Caravel to anyone looking for a short, fun read. It’s quick, enchanting, and like the circus, it’s over too quickly.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ /5
Let’s Compare Notes
Have you read Caravel? Do you agree with me? Have you ever read The Night Circus, or anything similar? Would love to hear from you in the comments section!