Mystic Magic: Not Every Book Is Perfect

Grace Cavanaugh ~ Copy Editor

I have one more book recommendation for the end of the semester. Again, it was a book my aunt gave me, back in 2017 for my birthday. At the time, it was an advanced reader’s copy because it would not be published until later in that month.

The book is Caraval by Stephanie Garber. At the time, it was a much-awaited book, the first of a series. It took me until this year to finally read the book, and it did not live up to my expectations.

From Goodreads, “Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.”

Scarlett has dreamed of going to Caraval since she was a child. She shared this dream with her sister Donatella. However, after years stuck on the island they call home and her imminent marriage to a man she has not met, Scarlett has given up on the dream.

“But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner,” the Goodreads blurb continues.

I will tell you the sailor’s name is Julian, because that is not a spoiler. There is a lot between Scarlett’s kidnapping and Donatella’s kidnapping, though.

Goodreads finished, “Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.”

Of course, there is magic in this story. It is not necessarily the same magic as other books, because the main character herself cannot use magic. In fact, there does not seem to be any clear magic rules, and it is explained away by characters who also do not understand the magic rules.

The book does have some common YA tropes, which is disappointing because it was a more recent YA novel. The main character is annoying for a majority of the book, there is an insta-romance, and there is a lack of diversity.

This is book was a little underwhelming, and definitely not as good as any of the other magic books I have read. There are glaring issues, and plenty of other books worth your time. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a better, older version of Caraval. The Raven Boys series by Maggie Steifvater that I have touched on. Even the Harry Potter series.

This summer, go out and find a book or a series that has magic, good magic with set rules. Find something that has decent characters, and a world that is complete. Enjoy your summer with an enchanting read, and if it is any good, let me know.

Have a good summer, everyone, and I hope it is magical.