This month Cassie and I met to discuss Windwitch by Susan Dennard for the Spines With Wines book club! It was a really fun one because we had opposite opinions on a lot of the story so you’ll get both points of view. You can view the full video below:
February Book Club Pick
Personal Thoughts: It’s been so long since I’ve written a book review since I’ve been giving all of my recaps on my BookTube channel at the end of the month but I really wanted to get back into them and it seemed perfect to do so with Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Caraval is without a doubt, a new favorite of mine. I love it so much that I preordered an additional copy once I was less than five chapters in. I’ve been talking about this book on my channel for quite some time- it was my most anticipated read from BEA but I somehow put it off until recently and I’m so happy that I did! While I would’ve loved to welcome this story in my heart earlier than I did, it was quite nice to read it with all of the lights, scents and general coziness that the magic of Christmastime provided as a backdrop.
Plot Summary: Caraval is the the story of Scarlet and her sister Tella who live on a conquered island with an abusive father. Having heard tales of the magic of Caraval, a traveling immersive performance that occurs annually, from their Grandmother, the girls both write to Legend, the mastermind behind the game. After years of unanswered letters, Scarlett finally receives a response along with three tickets to this year’s game- one for Scarlett, one for Tella and one for Scarlett’s fiance. When Scarlett arrives on the island, she discovers that this year’s game hits very close to home as her sister Tella has been kidnapped and the object of the game is to find her before the other participants she’s competing with. Participants are reminded two times before the games begin that everything occurring in Caraval is just a game and to not get swept away no matter how real things feel. But really, is it?
Critique: Caraval is one of the most sensory reads I’ve ever had the pleasure of diving into. I’m basically obsessed with the descriptive language Stephanie Garber used and I’m still amazed that she was able to so perfectly capture and relay the experience of Caraval to the reader. There was not a single drop of magic lost in translation. Each of our three main characters (Scarlett, Julian and Tella) were so well developed that they felt like actual people. The story is told from Scarlett’s perspective and the amount of character growth she underwent throughout the game is overwhelming. I love reading about characters who live within a set of boundaries, often self inflicted, who then break out and challenge their norms and Scarlett fit this description to a T. Despite Tella being kidnapped and therefore absent from the majority of the novel, I still had no trouble knowing her character. She is just as developed as her sister who graces every page. And then there’s Julian, to trust him or not to trust him? Either side you fall on, you will inevitably fall victim to his charm. As for side characters, everyone is important and I especially love the air of mystery surrounding Legend. I became so intrigued with the story and so addicted to Scarlett solving the cryptic clues and finding her sister that I can honestly say I let Caraval sweep me away (I even had to text Alexa at the climax of the story since she had finished earlier for moral support because I was laying in bed screaming WHAT IS REAL LIFE?!?!). Another incredible selling point of Caraval is that despite it being labeled as the first book in a series (THANK GOD BECAUSE I NEED MORE) the story wraps up very nicely. There’s no cliffhanger ending that leaves you dying for answers BUT there is an intriguing piece of information that you’ll be eager to explore.
Do I Recommend?: A THOUSAND TIMES YES.
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting. This week I’m choosing Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I talked about this book in a Top 10 Tuesday a little while back but the cover was just recently released and it’s super pretty! The book doesn’t come out until January of next year, but the film rights have already been purchased by the same studio who adapted Divergent. Caraval has a definite Night Circus vibe going on but it falls into the YA genre and it involves two sisters who get caught up in a game (… or is it?!) of love heartbreak and magic. You can read an excerpt from the book on EW.
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever. (via Goodreads)