My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Published: May 29th 2018
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win. After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister, Scarlett, from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice, but now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever…
Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . the games have only just begun. – Synopsis from Goodreads.
“Every good story needs a villain. But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.”
I didn’t think I could love this series anymore than I loved Caraval, I was very wrong. I know we are warned at the start of every Caraval not to get too swept up in the game, but I’m long gone – TAKE ME AWAY!
I’ve read this beautiful book twice now and I think I might have enjoyed it even more on my second read-through, that is possible. When we left off everything we thought we knew was kind of in shambles. Everyone turned out to be someone different from who they claimed to be and Scarlett and Julian were somewhat on the rocks and her sister, Tella has just gotten an invitation to take part in Caraval, so here we go again.
I was completely wary when I realized that we were switching main characters in this one and Tella was going to be our main protagonist and Scarlett would be more of a background character. I didn’t hate Tella in Caraval but I didn’t relate to her at all and I found her risk taking and impulsive behaviour to be selfish and exhausting at times. Thankfully, I obviously hadn’t gotten much of a chance to really get to know this character but I ended up adoring her so much. No, I can’t say I related to her, but that was completely fine – I was to aspire to be her! She was fantastic. She was fearless, witty and willing to go to the ends of the earth for those she loved. I really came to love Tella by the end of this book. Dante, who we met in the first book, becomes a major character in this one and he was a welcome one at that. He’s not as swoony exactly as Julian, but he’s a complete bad boy and he gets the best lines, so you know I had to love him instantly. The sexual chemistry between Tella and him is off the charts and I lived for their banter and there is lots of it. There is a lot a new character, Jacks. I don’t want to go too far into this character but I loved to hate this man. He was so deliciously evil and he knew it and enjoyed every minute of it. There is nothing I love more than a villain who enjoys being a villain and he really does. I don’t ship him with Tella or anything but I do love their scenes together and I’m dying to see what happens in the finale book.
The biggest change in this book is that, at least parts, of the game seem to be very real and the stakes are much higher. Tella is trying to find their mother, that abandoned them years ago and she has reason to believe that she can find her if she wins this round of Caraval. Probably the coolest element in this story is we are introduced to The Fates and they are fairly scary to deal with. The lore is cool as hell and the encounters are even better. They added another level to the story that I didn’t know I needed. Magical and dark.
We also finally find out Legend’s true identity in this one or do we? Never can tell with these books! The ending hurt my heart a little but I expected it, we wouldn’t have a third book otherwise. It ended with a lot of unanswered questions and a crazy twist that will be glorious to watch play out in the finale book. I am anxiously awaiting my copy of Finale as I write this review and I would be shocked if it doesn’t hit my top ten this year.
I obviously recommend this book. It does seem to be a rather polarizing read, as many readers either love it with all their heart or call it trash. I find it charming, cleaver, a little dark and, of course, magical.