Book Review – Caraval by Stephanie Garber – 5 stars

Warning: May contain spoilers, but opening comments are spoiler-free. Check out my Reading Ranting page for more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Wow. This book swept me far, far away just like Legend’s game. It has a circus feel to it with quirky characters and strange goings-on that remind me a little of Sorcery of Thorns and The Discworld series. 

Following Scarlett’s journey from her simple and planned-out life to being thrown into the most challenging game of her life was so much fun. Every chapter has something exciting and surprising to keep me on my toes, and the romance was nicely done. 

What I liked…

Everything.

The writing was fabulous, so creative and captivating. I couldn’t put this book down.

I loved the quirky magic in the game and fancy clothes that changed colours with Scarlett’s mood.

All the characters were suspicious in their own way, and knowing who to trust was super hard.

Julian had me constantly second-guessing his role in the game as well in Scarlett’s life.

 I didn’t even care how young the characters were because it’s hardly mentioned, and Scarlett begins the story engaged, so I genuinely thought the characters were older.

What I didn’t like…

Nothing worth mentioning. 

Final thoughts…

If you like games with cryptic clues, mysterious characters, and unique magic, then this book is for you.

Death Is Only the Beginning!

It’s an old Egyptian saying, which makes sense if you believe in an afterlife. Life is fleeting, but an afterlife is infinite.

Okay, ideology aside, I’m referring to fantasy or Sci-Fi stories where death is either an evolved state or temporary. It happens with people dying and getting turned into cyborgs, fighting their way back to the real world, or long dead voices who can speak to the living. 

It’s not only fun from a magic perspective, but also helpful in the plot. Voices from beyond can guide the MC to do something they can’t do themselves. Death can be reversed with magical spells or some life transferring power. Either way, death is not always the end. 

This is both good and bad for your fantasy or Sci-Fi story. You have to set limits on the revivals or contact with the living otherwise it just comes across as a deus ex machina. They can work in rare cases, but it’s best to set up the possibilities during the story.

Without spoiling too much, I have distinct differences between my versions of heaven, hell and purgatory across my WIPs. And some characters have the capability of returning to the land of the living, while others can only whisper to it or barely touch it. Of course, there are limits to when, where and how to all of it.

So how many ways can death be undone? Here are just a few ways death is only the beginning.

Faking a Death

This works in many genres and doesn’t require any kind of resurrection or special science or magic to bring the person back to life. The reader doesn’t have to know the MC’s boyfriend faked his death to protect her from the mob men who were going to kill her too. In fact, it works best when the MC has no idea until they really need to know. Keeping it a secret is the whole point of faking a death. Sure, you could have the MC fake their death which would make for an interesting story, but the point of this post is the ways the reader will think someone is dead but they’re not gone. 

Unfinished Business

Ghosts, spectres, voices of loved ones. These are people trying to complete something important to them or those they left behind. It could be something personal that they convince someone to do for them. Or they could have been waiting for a “chosen one” to put things right in a bigger sense. Either way, these are nothing more than guides who can’t physically interact, or if they can, they can only manipulate natural elements or signals in the air.

Reincarnation

A character is reborn from centuries ago and has the chance to complete a quest their past self didn’t. They may know they are reincarnated from a young age or they may find out when they’re older and have to figure out where their past self failed so they can avoid making the same mistake. Obviously, their past self died, but why?

Resurrection

Bringing people back to life has to have serious consequences or a very unique or lost spell otherwise everyone would be doing it. My favourite way to do this is some form of special energy like a rare planetary alignment or a hidden relic that is just as dangerous to find as it is to use. That’s the idea of resurrection that it may or will require a sacrifice. You have to balance the energy of your world. Whatever your parameters for this, make them hard as hell to put off even the bravest of souls from trying to bring back a loved one.

Suspended Animation

This mostly works in Sci-Fi like someone in a cryogenic chamber who gets surgery in the future to fix previously fatal wounds.So they were more on the verge of death rather than dead. This also works in fantasy where someone’s magical energy is still alive, but their body has been destroyed. This would leave their character requiring a physical form to be fully alive, which might be magically possible. So again, they’re not completely dead.

However you use death in your story, there are always possibilities.

Featured image by Dieterich01 at Pixabay.