Caraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Not unlike last year's Ruined by Amy Tintera, Stephanie Garber's debut novel Caraval is set in a Spanish-influenced fantasy world, and has a bit of a slow-paced beginning but really picks up the pace in the second half. The similarities end there, however. While Tintera's fantasy was a more action-packed piece in the vein of Throne of Glass, Garber gives us something more akin to Alice in Wonderland - and especially Splintered. But there was one character in particular that kept coming to mind quite often as I read the book, and that was Teen Wolf's infamous Nogitsune.
Along the way, Garber treats protagonist Scarlett Dragna - and, by extension, us readers - to a sumptuous, surreal, and often quite violent ride. Let me not sugarcoat it - this book isn't for the faint of heart, between the horribly abusive Governor Dragna treating his daughters Scarlett and Tella like doormats and the frequent bloody murders that saturate the second half of the story. As YA stories go, this one is dark and full of terrors, so consider yourself warned going in.
Though it doesn't quite live up to the hype for me (reminding me a bit of Truthwitch), Caraval makes for a strong and unforgettable debut, and I can't wait to read the sequel next year.
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