General Updates · Reviews

Review: Caraval



Author:Stephanie Garber

Series: Book 1

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩


From Goodreads

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.

divider-51Favorite Characters

Legend is one of my favorite characters. It’s not so much about him personally, but all these rumors surrounding him. I love the mystery of it (and Caraval) that plays out throughout the story. Never knowing who he really is, if you’ve seen him or not.

Scarlett was definitely my favorite between the two sisters. I liked that she was always looking out for her sister. Plus, she was smart, always on her toes. I liked that she was independent.

Aiko played a small part in Caraval, but I liked her appearances. She looked out for Scarlett in her own way and pushed her to look at her life (future really) in a new way.

divider-51Favorite Scenes

✩ One of the great things about this book was the environment that Garber created for Caraval. I loved the imagination put into and how things worked.

Some said Open: Sometime Around Midnight. Others signs said Come Back Yesterday.

✩ I also had a lot of fun reading the interactions between Julian and Scarlett because they were usually a mix of funny and cute.

“If you turn your back to me, we can both change.”

“We can both change facing each other too.” There was a smile in his voice now.

✩ Like I said, they tended to be funny, especially early on.

“Don’t look at me like that.” Scarlett said. “It doesn’t work on me.”

“That’s why it’s so fun.”

✩ I also liked that Julian was keeping his own secrets, and despite having his own reasons for being in Caraval he still did his best to help Scarlett out. Even if her being cautious could make waves at times.

It wasn’t until Julian stepped out of the room that she could breathe once more, and she realized: when he left, it felt as if he was closing the door on her as well.

✩ I also liked Scarlett as a character because she was strong, brave, and willing to sacrifice her future for her sister.

She remembered thinking falling for him would be like falling in love with darkness, but now she imagined he was more like a starry night: the constellations were always there, constant, magnificent guides against the ever-present black.

✩ Now, I won’t spoil anything, but I have to say that you have to appreciate the ending for all its twists and turns. There were so many things that I did not see coming. Really, really, loved the ending.

Scarlett didn’t know how many times she repeated his name. She said it like a prayer. A plea. A whisper. A good-bye.


Welcome one and all to my review on Caraval! Okay, I just really wanted to do that. Moving on!


I picked up this book because everyone was talking about it, and I wanted to know if it lived up to all the hype. And for me, it did. Although, it wasn’t an entirely smooth ride.

I’m going to be honest and say that Tella was one of the main reasons that I didn’t want to pick this book up again, and kinda put me in a slump for a few days. In the first few moments with Tella she was completely wild, capricious, and willing to step all over Scarlett to get what she wanted. I think the moment that I took a break from the book was right after Tella lied and blamed Scarlett for something she did so that her father wouldn’t punish her. It was frustrating for me because I saw two people living in the same nightmare (physical abuse)–Scarlett, willing to take care of them both, and Tella, looking out for herself. Edit: I should say that when I picked the book back up again this was explained and she wasn’t really trying to protect herself by doing this. She was actually protecting Scarlett.

After talking to a couple people on Goodreads and a friend I decided to push through it and go on. It was so worth it! So, if you don’t feel too great in the first few chapters of the book, I urge you to keep reading a little more. Once you get to the First Night of Caraval you can decide for yourself if it’s for you.

That being said, the fun of Caraval really started for me once Tella was out of the picture. When the story turned to Scarlett I really enjoyed the book a lot more. Once Scarlett and Julian reached Caraval I got lost in the magic and mystery. The feeling of Caraval is one of the driving forces of this book. It’s the moving bridges, the loss of time, the payment of secrets and desires–it was just a very dark and magical setting. In a way, I felt like Caraval gave people the chance to show what they were really like, to learn more about themselves.

For Scarlett, I think Caraval taught her about taking chances, and what it means to really love someone. I think she especially learned to love herself enough to make choices about her own happiness. I liked that Scarlett stopped settling and started living.

Legend was another favorite of mine. Although you never really find out if you’ve seen him or what he looks like it’s really just the myths about him that I found appealing. I liked the mystery and his walking the fine line between villain and performer.

Now, I’m just going to address this briefly because I know some people have issues with this so I kinda just wanna give everyone a heads-up. Some people have said that they didn’t like the book because of the apparent instant romance between Scarlett and another character. I didn’t see it that way. It developed slowly, and then came out naturally over the tough situations they were placed in. It wasn’t anything either planned and I think it was necessary for her to grow. 

And, of course, I would love to talk about that seriously plot-twisty goodness that was the ending, but I won’t spoil it. Suffice it to say that I was relieved and pleasantly surprised, but also dying to know what happens next!

As a final note, I have to give this book props just for its design. The cover is gorgeous (even though I secretly love the UK cover more), and I love the chapter headers and flourishes used throughout. Plus, if you take the dust jacket off the hardcover it has a cute little teardrop on it that’s part of the Caraval symbol. I just loved how pretty this book was. There, I said it, haha.





17 thoughts on “Review: Caraval

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s