Book Review – Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This… was such a great book!!!

I’m not really sure how I stumbled upon Caraval, but it was probably @epicreads​’ fault (thanks thanks thanks). After finishing Queen of Shadows (which btw is absolutely amazing) I needed a light quick read, and Caraval seemed pretty interesting, so I decided to give it a try. And it. Was. Awesome.

(Book blurb and links at the end, if you want them)

SO! What’s Caraval about – We have this girl called Scarlett, who’s been dreaming for years of attending Caraval, a once-a-year traveling performance where the audience participates in the show, and that never visits the same place twice. After her violent father arranges a marriage for her, she sees the chance to escape her life and find a safe place for her and her sister, and gives up hope of ever seeing Caraval – JUST when… She finally receives an invitation. Her sister Tella finds a way to whisk her away to the show, but as soon as they arrive Tella gets kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind, and becomes the objective of that season’s game – whoever finds her first is the winner. Everything in Caraval is supposed to be just an elaborate performance, but as the game goes on, the consequences start to seem more and more real, and Scarlett must find her sister before the five nights are over, or she might lose her forever.


“Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away”


So yeah, as previously said… Caraval is really great. At first I was a bit worried it was going to be some silly, way too fanciful in a bad way sorta thing – got this impression at times from what happens before the game begins – but… nope. Things are never what you would expect in Caraval, and that makes for some really amazing and beautiful places and a story that keeps you hooked the whole time. I was surprised by the way the whole game was set, and all the tiny details and magical things that keep happening throughout.
And speaking of unexpected things – there are so many plot twists and deceptions – you get played once and again and never really know what’s actually going on till the very end. At which point… you just want more (GIMME BOOK TWO, PLEASE). Also, you’re never quite sure of how serious the things that happen really are – after all, it’s all just a game… Right? RIGHT?

*shakes head and mouthes NO*


(randomly placed nice looking quote. you’re welcome.)

Okay… About the characters! The main gal, Scarlett, has some worrying and fretting issues, but she’s willing to go way out of her way to get what she really wants and protect those she cares about. Which at the start is just her sister, and then someone else who won’t be mentioned, because, spoilers. With everything that’s happened to her throughout her life, she’s learned to hide herself and try to become unnoticeable, burying all her dreams and hopes deeeep down and avoiding anything that might get her and Tella hurt. She’s the one who reins in Tella’s recklessness to keep them out of trouble. All of this proves to be really unhelpful in Caraval, though, so she’s in for some change. At first she’s quite focused on not ruining her life and getting out of the game as fast as she can, but things don’t go her way (obviously), and she’s forced to rethink the way she does and thinks about things.

Scarlett’s sister, Donatella, seemed fairly annoying to me throughout the book, she just seems to cause way too much trouble for nothing, BUT — as it turns out, there’s a lot more to her than I was made believe. She’s quite the cunning person. And too good a liar.

There’s also Julian, the sketchy sailor who takes Scarlett and Tella to Caraval and who is definitely nooot who he seems to be… Or who he seems to be after that… And after that… He ends up playing a big role in everything that happens, and brings about quite a few surprises .

And finally… Legend. The master of the whole thing AND a complete mystery. For all I know, every single rumor and story about him in the book could be a lie, so let’s just say… He’s smart. Possibly evil. Or maybe not evil at all. I intend to find out.
Given, not everything about the book is perfect… One thing I didn’t really like was how most clues of the game were so easy or by chance. I don’t really get the logic of them, or how Scarlett came to interpret them as clues. It felt a bit too convenient and not very well planned. With everything else going on they were still interesting, but it would have been even better if the game itself was more… I don’t know, logical. Other than that, there weren’t many flaws – some unnecessary or repetitive explanations here and there, and something about the end of the game I can’t really hint at (no spoilers!) that was somewhat disappointing. Nothing bad, it just dulls things that happened earlier a bit. But, there’s new mysterious stuff right after, so that makes up for it.

When it comes to romance, I’d say it was both great and bad. It didn’t really feel right at first (what are you even thinking, Scarlett??), and things happened too fast – I mean, the whole story does take place in just 8 days or so – but in the end it becomes something I wouldn’t want to leave out.

So yeah – great read! It’s pretty fun and quick, I can’t wait for book two (did I say that already?), and guess what – IT’S BEEN OPTIONED TO BE A MOVIE. That should be nice. So now that my review is over and you’re maybe, possibly, running off to get the book… can I just point out how pretty the cover is? And the pages, and the inllustrations, and… EVERYTHING? Okay, that’s it. Bye!


Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Get the book


Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

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

2 thoughts on “Book Review – Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Add yours

  1. Oooh I didn’t know it was optioned for a movie! That’s super cool! I do own it but haven’t had a chance to read it yet *buries self under huge TBR* but i’m so glad you loved it. The setting sounds AMAZING. Pity about the romance being bleh though.😂 I’m super excited to devour it soon for sure. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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