Book Review

Caraval : Book Review



Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 407
Publisher: Flatiron Books


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.


This was my first re-read of Caraval to begin preparing for the release of the third and final book, Finale 💜 I am incredibly sad this series will be coming to an end this May but I sure have enjoyed the ride along the way. I realized in my re-read that I appreciate this book much more now than I did when I first read it. I didn’t read my original review until after I wrote this one so I wouldn’t compare, but if you would like to read it you can find it here.

One thing I have learned about myself as a reader is that I absolutely LOVE the whimsical, flowy, metaphorical writing. I know this is one thing that I actually didn’t enjoy about this book the first time around but now I thought it was incredibly well done and was so beautiful I got a little teary eyed at times. If there is one thing people dislike about Caraval it is the descriptive sentences throughout, but if you enjoy that style of writing as I do then I feel you will also love this book.

The style of writing for this book was actually perfect in my mind because the game of Caraval is meant to be magical and whimsical which I don’t think would have been as easily achieved without this lighter than air writing. There were so many times I caught MYSELF getting swept up in the magic of the game. I felt like I was a part of the game trying to solve the clues and wishing I could experience that dazzling magic for myself.

“She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”

I do have one gripe with this story and it is Scarlett. Which is unfortunate because in this book she is the main character. Sometimes she was just so, standoff-ish and honestly acted like a brat most of the story. But I do have some sympathy for her, she has a terrible home life that still makes me cringe even thinking about it now, she has a sister that she loves and feels she has to protect from the world, and her mother ran away from her family when she was a kid. But the fact that she was willing to marry some Count she had never met and didn’t even know his name, all for the sake of protecting Donatella? Not cool. It actually angered me that she felt that was her only option. Thank god Julian came in to play.

I think I was a little rough with my review of Scarlett and Julian’s relationship in my first reads review and I would like to rectify that now because I believe my feelings have changed for the better! Last time all I could focus on was the ‘Insta-Love’ between them but I don’t see that anymore. Yes, this all happens in a short amount of time but it is by no means a situation where they look at each other and are madly in love. In fact, there’s a little bit of hate to love here which I greatly appreciate 😜 in the beginning Scarlett can’t even stand to look at Julian let alone be in love with him immediately, I was very inexperienced in reviewing and deciphering tropes in my previous review apparently.

“Some would probably call him a villain. Others would say his magic makes him closer to a god.” 

I do wish there was more world building though! There was a lot of it, don’t get me wrong. I just enjoyed this story so much I want MORE. It helps having the descriptive metaphorical writing because Stephanie does a fantastic job painting a beautiful picture of what Caraval looks like. Maybe I just wish it was longer? I don’t know, I just need MORE of this magical world.

There’s no wavering in how many stars I am giving Caraval this time around, it’s a solid 4 from me. As I write this review I am already 25% into my reread of Legendary and I am LIVING for it. I loved Legendary even more than Caraval and my feelings are proving the same this time around as well. Just wait for that review!


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10 thoughts on “Caraval : Book Review”

  1. When I read Caraval, I didn’t really enjoy it so much because of Scarlett. I felt like she was a bit immature and ditsy as the main character, so I wasn’t really planning on finishing the series. But then I read Legendary and it was so good! I can’t wait for the end of the series, and I might go for a reread of Caraval soon too since now that I’ve read Legendary I feel like I might have a different view of Scarlett as a character.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved Legendary SO MUCH more than Caraval! My second read of Caraval was much better but I still think Donatella is a more dimensional character and prefer her story over Scarlett’s 🤷🏽‍♀️


  2. I loved this review! I adore the world of Caraval and all its magic and whimsy, but with those dark undertones that makes everything mysterious. Stephanie Garber’s writing is so beautiful, but as much as I LOVED Caraval, Legendary completely blew me away. I can’t wait for Finale!

    Liked by 1 person

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