Caraval by Stephanie Garber

CaravalTitle: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: January 21, 2017

“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.”


Caraval is truly a magical book filled with illusions and manipulations that keep you guessing. Sisters Scarlett and Donatella Dragna are invited to the illusive game, Caraval. However once they arrive they find everything is not as it appears, and their expectations are rapidly changing. After Donatella becomes part of the game, Scarlett fights magic and illusions to keep her sister safe.


Things I Liked 

I really loved that Scarlett’s letters opened the book. Her letters to Legend, inquiring about Caraval were the perfect opeining. They immediately gripped me and drew me into the story. I wanted to know more about Caraval and this world.

Caraval itself was actually pretty well established, which I honestly wasn’t expecting. We see how Caraval came about through Scaralett’s flashback to stories with her grandmother. I thought Caraval would have been kept more of a mystery, but we learn abouts it’s origins and rules fairly early on in the story.

Personal preference, but I really loved the short chapters. It made it really easy to read, and easy to become invested in.

Such great potential for the next book. I really loved the ending and the clues dropped about what could be coming in the future. Though I’m not excited about Tella being the main character.


Things I Didn’t Like 

I did not like Tella at all. She was was impulsive, stubborn, and selfish – not a good combination in a game with such high risks. I didn’t care for her at all, so I was never super invested in her relationship with Scarlett.

While Caraval is well established, I didn’t think there was much world building outside of Caraval at all. We don’t really know anything about the history, culture, or politics of the world or places. It made me care a little less, or at least a little less invested.

Scarlett talked about seeing colors attached to strong emotions, but like the world building, the magic outside of Caraval wasn’t really established. I didn’t know why she could see the colors; if it’s a common thing among people (or a certain group of people). Was she being literal (like I took it), or more metaphorical – it wasn’t clear. I guess I just had more questions about the world at large, so I wasn’t completely satisfied.

Because of all the lies and manipulations in Caraval, you’re never really sure what’s real or not, what’s important or not, or what’s lasting or not. There did seem to be less weight and impact with some of the events, because I didn’t know if I was supposed to believe what was happening, or I wasn’t sure it would be a permanent problem.


Caraval is an enchanting read of magic, family, and breaking out on your own. While I found the world outside of Caraval lacking, Caraval itself is both vibrant and grim – an enthralling blend of danger, adventure, and promise. The strong beginning immediately drew me in, and the ending left me waiting in eager anticipation for what comes next.

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15 thoughts on “Caraval by Stephanie Garber

  1. Destiny @ Howling Libraries says:

    Great review! I think I gave this one 2 or 3 stars, too, for all the same reasons as you, basically – Tella was awful, the magic was never really *established* enough for me, etc. I’m not sure if I’m going to pick up Legendary. If I do, I think it’ll just be from the library.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scrill says:

    I really enjoyed this one too, and I remember really disliking the seeing colors bit too. It almost seemed forced to be extra whimsical by including it, but overall never really made any sense to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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