[REVIEW] Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Series: Caraval #1

Rating: 4 STARS


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.

My Thoughts:

“It took seven years to get the letter right.”

Yes, I did it! I finally read it! After months and months of seeing other people receiving ARCs and fangirling and falling in love with this book and talking endless praises and putting it on their “Best Books of 2016/2017” lists, I finally got the pleasure of reading this book. And, boy, was it just as amazing as everyone said it would be. 

First off, the world-building. I absolutely adored it. I know there’s been comparisons drawn between this debut and The Night Circus, but I will say that the ways the two deal with circuses are vastly different, but equally amazing. While The Night Circus has more of a magical circus that captivates all, Caraval deals with more of a darker type of circus, one that can easily trick you and play with your mind. I loved how the world unfolded, especially concerning the Isle of Trisda, since you’re constantly doubting yourself and wondering if this is real or if it’s not, or if this person is actually here or if this person is actually betraying her, etc. It’s so brilliant, and I’m a huge fan of books where I’m constantly going, “What in the WORLD is going on?” and keeps me on my toes.

The flow of this book was perfect. I found it extremely addicting and I didn’t think there was one dull moment. There were twists and turns that made me gasp and kept me focused solely on the story and what was going to happen next, especially near the end where I just couldn’t stop reading. This book was so entertaining. The plot really helped the pacing move along, because the summary, thank God, doesn’t reveal too much, so you’re really going in slightly blind, which is what makes it so good. There’ll be so many things that you just won’t see coming. 

And the characters! I loved Scarlett so much! She’s very different from the “badass leading lady” type that’s dominating a lot of YA, which isn’t a bad thing (I absolutely love some of those ladies) and she’s basically just a normal girl, stumbling through this twisty, magical world, trying to get her sister back. She’s one of those easily relatable protagonists that you’ll want to cheer for. And, of course, Julian, my newest book boyfriend. He’s just so sweet and kind and handsome and he cares about Scarlett so much, it’s absolutely adorable. Even though their relationship takes place over the course of five days, I still found it pretty realistic. Their romance didn’t feel forced or cheesy to me, and, in my opinion,  I didn’t think it was insta-love since there wasn’t really a defining moment where they were outpouring their love for each other and it was met with trepidation, but it’s all up to interpretation, I guess.

Overall, I highly recommend this book, and I’m sure literally everyone else has, so if you haven’t read it already, you definitely must. Like, right now. Right now.


Feel free to chat about this book with me in the comments! Just make sure to mark your review as spoiler-y if you’re going to talk spoilers though!


17 thoughts on “[REVIEW] Caraval by Stephanie Garber

  1. Great review for this book Mikaela. I LOVED Caraval and there’s nothing better than seeing another really positive review for a book you loved on someone else’s blog. 🙂 It’s great to see this book lived up to the hype for you, there’s always a chance it could go the other way but I’m glad it didn’t.
    Most people do seem to love this book and I think it’s easy to see why.
    I loved the world-building. I agree it wasn’t all the similar to The Night Circus but there were a few connections in that the writing was so kind of lyrical and enchanting that it made me want to believe in magic and travel to Caraval/The Night Circus myself to experience it first hand. I really liked Scarlett’s character but above all I think I loved her relationship with her sister. Even though they weren’t together a lot you could still see how close they were.
    Again great review! 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there really isn’t! I absolutely love fangirling about books. 😍 And, yes, it captivated me so easily, especially after the first couple of chapters. And then Caraval begins and you just can’t stop!

      Yeah, the prose of both books was absolutely gorgeous. ❤ I found it interesting how Scarlett described things in colors; it reminded me of synesthesia, sort of, even though I don’t think she has it. And yes, I loved her relationship with her sister. I thought Tella was pretty great, too, especially the epilogue??? What was that about?

      Thank you! 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s pretty much the whole reason we have these blogs isn’t it? And yes I was hooked from the beginning as well, I just never wanted it to end.
        I didn’t notice that about Scarlett describing things in colours, I read the book a little while ago though so I’ll be sure to check it out again when I re-read it! 😀 I think the epilogue was maybe hinting at the next book (I think Caraval is a duology) but I’m still really intrigued by it.
        That’s all right! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No, no, no. Stop trying to steal my man. I totally claimed him first 😅

    So glad you loved this book as much as I did. The world is incredible and I loved how it skips the journey and plunges you straight in, leaving you as disorientated as Scarlet. I do kind of want to go shopping there and I really want her dress.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nooo, I’m so unlucky to have read it late because I would have totally stolen him first. 😂

      And, yes, I loved that about it so much! I’m a huge fan of books with puzzles and riddles in them, probably because I know I’d suck at them in real life, so I can vicariously live through smarter characters. And yes same! 😍

      Also, do you have a pretty U.K. version? I’m curious, because they’re so beautiful and the way they look naked is envy. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Most people have said in their reviews that this isn’t really Night Circus-y, so it might work out better for you! This one actually focuses on the games and is faster-paced than The Night Circus, so if that’s want you didn’t like, this one will probably be better! And thank you! ❤


  3. I have yet to see a negative review on this, honestly! I haven’t looked for one, obviously, because so many people I trust have been raving about this–I’m so glad to see you loved it as much as you did! ❤ I loved The Night Circus, and this one seems just as good, if not better aha. SO EXCITED. I need to read this, like, immediately??! Ahhh lovely review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I saw some more mixed reviews of this one closer to the release date, but most of the people who’s reviews I trusted loved it so I had already made up my mind at that point. And, yes, you’ll probably love this one if you loved The Night Circus, even though Caraval has more of a focus on the games and is less magical realism, I guess? And thank you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The more I hear about this book the more I want to read it! Just the fact that I’ve yet to hear a single bad thing says that this one is definitely living up to the hype. And I love a great fantasy book that can keep you on your toes and constantly surprise you. I’m so going to have to get my hands on this and read it as soon as I have the time and can buy it. Great review!! 💕😁

    Liked by 1 person

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