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.

Title: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

Publication Date: 31st January 2017

Series: Yes, the start of 2.

The Characters:

Scarlett and Donatella are sisters, and the book is told from Scarlett’s point of view. Like all literary sisters I swear, THEY ARE COMPLETE OPPOSITES AND DON’T GET ALONG ALL THE TIME BUT STILL LOVE EACH OTHER. Awww sweet.

Scarlett is the sensible older sister that’s about to get married to a complete stranger she doesn’t even know properly, and Donatella’s the wild younger sister that has too much fun.

Oh and then there’s this pretty sailor guy that Donatella was messing with that ends up taking them to Caraval, the oh so magical carnival/circus thing that everybody is DYING to see. Oh and there is also this really mysterious guy that’s the master of Caraval called Legend.

The characters themselves had layers. Except Scarlett the main character. But I liked her. She always tried to do the right thing, and throughout the book, she would constantly be pushing away guys, telling herself that it wasn’t “proper” since she was engaged.

But then she starts questioning it. Slowly at first. Barely anything. But she does. But all Scarlett really wants is for her and Donatella to be safe and happy, away from her scarily Umbridge-like father. (Except without all the pink.)

But anyways, other characters. Many of them were shady, and seriously, TRUST NO ONE. This book is full of shaaaaady people and PLOT TWISTS. But we’ll get onto that later.

The Plot:

The book basically follows Scarlett and her time at Caraval. Scarlett doesn’t want to go to Caraval for fear of her father, but gets dragged there anyway because of sweet Donatella. Throughout the book, we see from Scarlett’s eyes how amazing it all is, and Scarlett had been dreaming of going since she was ickle and cute, and now that she finally gets to go… You’ll see.

The plot was surprising, well-written and just sooooo damn goooooood. I was hooked from page 1, and OMG THE PLOT TWISTS. At one point, I was soooo confused as to who to trust AND MY HEAD HURT.


My only complaint is that at the end of the book, the last 100 pages, I was confused. Not a I’m-confused-but-it’s-ok-at-the-end kind of confused. I STILL AM CONFUSED. Sorta. I wish things had been less rushed and jumpy at the end, and that things were explained a bit more BECAUSE I CAN’T HANDLE THIS MUCH AT ONCE.

Also, um… There was this fight between Donatella and Scarlett that lasted for way too long. I WAS DYING OF BOREDOM and it seriously felt more like 2 little kids fighting, and saying the same things over and over again. Ok. I get it. Let’s move on. Oh? Someone’s going to die? OK THEN. LET’S JUST HURRY UP AND GET TO THE STABBY, HEAD-EXPLODING MOMENTS BECAUSE THIS IS BORING.

The Writing:

Oh. My. Word. Stephanie Garber has one of the most amazing writing styles ever. It’s so magical, and conveys everything so SO well! Her writing matched the themes of the book perfectly and I LOVE IT!

She made everything sound so freaking amazing and magical that I was DYING to be there myself~~ Sadly Caraval isn’t real (I’m crying) and so I got to experience it through Scarlett’s eyes which was the next best thing. BUT SCARLETT, I WANT YOUR DRESSES. Not a dress person myself but DAMN STEPHANIE ACTUALLY MADE ME WANT THEM.

Also second complaint. The nicknames the characters had for each other were SUPER off-putting at times. I mean, the sailor dude kept calling Scarlett, “Crimson.” I mean, ok, I get it. BUT WHEN YOU’RE DYING, CAN YOU PLEASE USE HER ACTUAL NAME? I CAN’T TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. If you’ve read The Raven Boys, you might guess what I mean by name switching. You know the whole Blue/Jane with Gansey? He kept switching depending on the mood, and it brought out the emotions of the characters REALLY WELL. Here, Mr. Handsome Sailor only ever used the name “Crimson” which was definitely a mood killer.

Thanks. You may be hot, but doesn’t excuse the fact you ruined it for me. *glares*

The Conclusion:

Ok. So basically. I really liked this book. Like is a lame word. I was always told not to use that word. Oh well. MY BLOG MY RULES HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAA. Oh yes I am immature.

Stephanie crafted out freaking magical world. Her writing was ACE, and she made everything sound SO GLORIOUS~ It gave me some serious Alice in Wonderland vibes at times for some reason AND I LOVED IT. The characters were all interesting, and had their own little story to tell. My only problem with this book is probably with the last 100 pages where everything felt messy bombs. Also, the dialogue between characters could maaaaaybe have been better. I found bits of it annoying, and the name deal with Red/Scarlett/Crimson/BLOOD could have been done better :/


  • Amazing prose
  • Gripping Plot
  • Interesting characters


  • Slightly rushed ending
  • Annoying nicknames

Book in a GIF:


Rating: 4.5 Stars

Owned: YES! I have the Tesco exclusive copy WITH THE TOP HAT AND I WANT ALL THE EDITIONS NOW.

Buy your own copy on Amazon here!

Recommended for: Those that enjoyed The Night Circus, those that like books with super magical places in a “normal” world. Those that kike fantasy and Alice in Wonderland. And definitely to anyone looking for a book with a circus in.

 OMG I AM LATE AGAIN. Seriously haven’t posted in what feels like a million years. TALK TO MEEEEE. Have you read this book? Will you? And do you like books with magical circuses in them?

6 thoughts on “Caraval by Stephanie Garber Review”

  1. I’m very excited to read this and I’m glad that most of the reviews seems to be trending towards excellent!

    One thing I’ve never understood about fictional sister relationships is when two completely opposite sisters get along so well. Does that ever happen in real life? My experience is no, but who knows?

    1. I get what you mean!! XD Me and my sister are really similar and really different at the same time so I can’t really say :X Though in Caraval, the sisters only have each other. Their dad is abusive and mother is dead so I kinda get why they have to get along. But in real life? Dunno XD There’s a bond I guess. This is actually a weirdly interesting topic to explore LOL

  2. I absolutely loved this book and I totally understand the ending being seemed to be rushed, I felt a bit like that too. I’m actually putting up a book review on this as well, hopefully this weekend so it’s really interesting to see what you made of it.

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