Review – Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Title Caraval

Author Stephanie Garber

Description from Amazon

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

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.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic 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.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

Initial Thoughts

I had seen so many posts about this book over the last few years and even more recently with the final installment coming out in May 2019.  It’s not that it didn’t interest me (because it absolutely did), but I think I held off on reading it because once I had read it, the mystery would be gone.  Once I dove into this world, the hype would end because I would know the secret.

Cover Art

The cover on this book is so fitting.  I love the magical/circus-ish writing and I love the color scheme.  The UK Edition is actually quite different and beautiful in a different way.  It has more classic circus elements to it and I’m dying to get my hands on a hardcover of the UK version.  This is a perfect example of a book where both the US and UK editions have extreme shelf appeal.

Writing Style

I really enjoyed the writing style here.  I like first person POV and Scarlett makes an excellent narrator.  I think the single character narration adds to the mystery of the story and makes it that much more exciting.

Something I Wasn’t Crazy About

There really wasn’t much that I didn’t love about this book.  However, I will say that I want more for Tella.  I feel like her story was so sad and she did everything for her sister.  I want more for her in the next installments.

Series Value

I need to read Legendary and Finale right now.  Caraval created a rich and captivating world that I want to return to immediately.  The character, the premise, and the setting are so enchanting.  I think Caraval set the bar incredibly high.

Final Thoughts

I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book.  The story was amazing.  It’s easily one of my favorite books of 2019 and possibly one of my favorite of all time.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • Legendary and Finale by Stephanie Garber – these are the next two book in the series.  Must reads for fans of this story.
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern – this is another story about a magical travelling show that pops up whenever and wherever without announcement.  There are romance, a competition, and magic featured prominently in both stories.  The Night Circus is a bit more of an adult novel than YA but I think if you liked one, you will like the other.
  • The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist – these stories are very different in setting but I think there are strong parallels between the way both sets of sisters care for each other in each book.  Both stories feature sisters switching places to protect the other.


Caraval on Goodreads

Buy Caraval on Amazon

Don’t forget to check out Finale by Stephanie Garber, coming out in May 2019.

2 thoughts on “Review – Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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