A black forest gateaux of a series – Caraval and Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, teen book reviews

Scarlett and Donatella Dragma escape their cruel and controlling father to enter the magical world of Caraval, a magical game and competition run by the mysterious Legend. Each sister must risk their lives and test their daring and their love as they compete, to save each other’s lives and more as the alluring world sweeps them into it’s depths and stories. In a world where they can’t know what is true each sister has secrets and plans that in turn will affect the whole world around them.

Trying to summarise two books is difficult!! I thought I had already reviewed Caraval, but it seems not so I’m doing two in one. First thought – these are great! They are the books most like one of my favourites ever The Night Circus that I have read. They draw you in quickly and deeply, the world they create is exciting in it’s twists and turns and evocative and sensual in it’s magic and setting. I’ve really enjoyed them – but I do think they’re a bit over done, a little over sensual and over descriptive. A little over flavoured – like a black forest gateaux.

The sisters are great. Scarlett is fearful but also protective of her sister and will go to any lengths to save her. Donatella is determined and feisty, up for all the fun and experience she can get. Scarlett is the focus of the first book, Donatella of the second. I found Scarlett easier to understand, probably because she’s more like me, so it was a shock to come into Donatella’s world in the second book. But I liked it.

The world is great. Lots of magic, not too many rules, lots of excitement and twists and turns. My qualm is that it does seem totally tied up around the sisters: so many things turn out to be about them where I think I might have enjoyed it better if they were caught up in something bigger than them. But that’s pretty common.

Garber does seem pretty obsessed with colours: and Scarlett feels emotions as colours. This gets pretty annoying and a bit of a sensory and descriptive overload, as did a bit of a fascination with what the characters were wearing all the time. As opposed to The Night Circus, where all the sensory description made it feel almost immersive, here it jarred and seemed overmuch.

The plots are great, lots of intrigue and twists and turns and I’m certainly looking forward to what happens in the next and final (I assume) book. I leant the first one to my sister who then leant it on to a friend (give it back Zoe) so that’s another recommendation.

Read it! But don’t be surprised by some over description.

I think I bought these books myself rather than being sent them. Thanks, me.

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