Review: Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Title: Caraval (Caraval #1)

Author: Stephanie Garber (twitter) (site)

Publisher//Release Date: Flatiron Books// January 31st, 2017

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Source: Purchased (will also be purchasing for everyone I ever met also)

Goodreads     Amazon     Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

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.

Rating: 5/ 5

Before I go any further, I highly recommend listening to a recording of the song Magic To Do from the musical Pippin while reading because it REALLLLLY captures this book and I’ve had it running through my head for like three days.



I’ve been looking forward to this book since it came across my radar on Goodreads in 2015 when it was noting more than title, a short synopsis, and an estimated release date that changed every once in a while. But it caught my attention and when it cropped back up from time to time with more info, it just made me more and more excited until this became one of my most anticipated books of 2017.

And OH MYLANTA this didn’t disappoint in the slightest. It took all the willpower I had not to restart the book as soon as I finished and I’m still fighting that urge as we speak and counting down the days until the sequel comes out – yep that’s a thing that I NEED NOW.

Let’s break it down:

What I Liked:

  • The Plot. You think you know where this book is going. But there is twist after twist after twist. There a ton of threads and watching them come together is such a fun ride and kept me going  and going and going. My only complaint is there is one particular plotline that not resolved – purposely – but I knew it was relevant and it never being addressed was ticking me off.
  • The Setting. I. LOVE. THIS. WORLD. I’m really interested in Caraval – it’s so mysterious and magical, but with a definite creepiness lurking underneath, that wasn’t apparent right away. This is actually what I’m most looking forward to in the sequel – getting to see more of Caraval. I really want to know more about the magic and how it works and what.
  • The Characters. The characters are vivid – I have a really good grasp on even minor characters that only appear in a scene or two. Scarlett is a great heroine – she’s smart and complex but still has a bit of innocence that added a great deal to her character as a whole. I really enjoyed her journey through this novel – she goes through a great deal of growth. Tella was a difficult character for me; I liked her as a character but I don’t know if I liked her – but I liked the fact that’s a thing? (But I might just be a weirdo). And Julian. What can I say about Julian. Instant Fictional Boyfriend.  But there’s a so many supporting characters that were just so interesting. Aiko, Jovan, Dante (ugh, Dante, yes – I liked me some Dante). So many characters and all so interesting. And then there’s Legend, who’s in a class all his own. He’s absolutely facsinating and I didn’t get near enough info about him for my taste and I need this sequel ASAP.
  • The Romance. OHHHHHHHHHHHHH my god I loved it. It’s got bit of a Will-They-Or-Won’t-They and a bit of Unlikely Allies, a heaping ton of chemistry and just the right amount of steamy and we have a couple that I really freaking enjoyed.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The Resolution of the Romantic Storyline. There’s a great deal of question throughout the book about who you can and cannot trust, and that true for the major love interest. After everything that happens between the couple in question, I thought everything was resolved a little too quickly. This might just be a me thing, it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the book or the romance, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s relatively minor, but it irked me enough that I felt I needed to mention it.

Also, I feel the need to mention that seeing the author of a new favorite book thank the reps of the company that owns the film rights in the acknowledgements at the end of the book has got to be one of the best feelings in the world.

That’s it for me this time. Have you read Caraval? What did you think of it?

See you next time!


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