Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Posted January 30, 2017 in Review / 12 Comments

Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Series: Caraval #1
by Stephanie Garber
Published by Macmillan, Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: ARC

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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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.

Page-Turner Well Written


“Welcome, welcome to Caraval!..”

I just read a super hyped-up book and it lived up to all the hype!!  Who would have guessed?!?!

“The grandest show on land or by sea.  Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime.”

The idea of Caraval intrigued me as soon as I read the synopsis waaaaay back in the summer of 2016.  The idea that there’s a week-long performance where the audience is invite-only and can participate in the adventure and magic of the performance sounds amazing.

For the sheltered daughter of an overbearing and abusive father and powerful Governor, it is the stuff her dreams are made of for years.  Ever since Scarlett’s mother left her and her sister, Donatella, alone with their father, Scarlett has dreamed of attending Caraval and seeing the legendary magic she’s heard tales of.  Two weeks before she’s to be married off, Scarlett finally receives tickets to the Caraval being held in three days on Caraval Master Legend’s private island.

This story does NOT waste its time in world building or setting the stage for the story.  It grabs your attention immediately with Scarlett’s letters to Caraval Master Legend.  Not messing around, we next meet Scarlett and Donatella and see first hand how their father controls their lives.  This plot is fast moving and full of action.  Its well-placed dialogue and vivid yet succinct description of the magical world of Caraval made the 407 pages fly by like a short story.  I seriously couldn’t believe I just read a book that long so quickly!

“But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game.  What happens beyond this gate may frighten or excite you, but don’t let any of it trick you.  We will try to convince you it’s real, but all of it is a performance.  A world build of make-believe.”

At the heart of the Caraval performace is a mystery to be solved.  The person who solves the mystery gets a wish.  The entire story is a HUGE mystery and it completely held me hostage for the two days it took me to read this book.

  “So while we want you to get swept away, be careful of being swept too far away…”

I got swept away.  Hands up in surrender.  I really, really did!!  And I don’t normally search out mysteries as a genre to read.  But this story had so many false leads and “things” that were not what they seemed to be (I don’t want to give anything away so I can’t use the proper pronouns!!), I had to keep reading to see how the story would end.  I literally had NO IDEA all throughout the story.

Was I caught up in the magic?  Did I not closely enough at the clues?  Who cares??  I enjoyed the heck out of myself reading this book.  That’s what matters the most!

A review of a book wouldn’t be quite complete without taking a look at the characters.  Scarlett was a great character because she reacted perfectly to the situations she was put in.  If you keep track of how she reacts throughout the story, you realize she stays consistent and I always like that in a character.  Same with some of the other characters in the story.  They stayed consistent to their underlying personalities, even when they were playing a part.  You have to pay attention and watch for it.

Or you could do what I did and go back and re-read the best parts of the story immediately after you finish the first time.  Can you tell I was a little addicted to the world?  😀  Write faster, Ms. Garber… write faster!!

About Stephanie Garber

My favorite place in the world is Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where I feel as if the fantastical stories I love to write about could actually come to life.

When I’m not writing, I teach creative writing at a private college in Northern California, where I’ve been known to turn assignments into games and take students on field trips that involve book signings. I’m also a blogger on PUB(LISHING) CRAWL. But I probably spend most of my time on Twitter where I tend to overuse exclamation points and emojis.

To help pay my bills during college, grad school, and the breaks in between, I worked as a barista, a waitress, a bartender, a customer service representative for an energy consulting company, and as a sales girl at Bath and Bodyworks. I also spent years working with youth; I worked as a counselor at space themed summer camp, volunteered at a school for deaf children in Mexico, and I took multiple groups of college students overseas to spend their winter vacations serving at youth hostels in Amsterdam. But out of everything that I’ve done, writing young adult novels has been my favorite job.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:


About Kristin

Kristin has to ensure she gets her minimal requirement of "happily ever after" books in between those books that contain cliffhangers and never-ending story arcs. It's for her family's sake. When not reading, she's homeshooling her 10-year old son, watching cartoons on TV, or taking a nap.

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12 responses to “Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

  1. I kind of passed up on this one, cause I wasn’t sure, but fav of 2017? wow.. I have heard so many good stuff about it lately kind of kicking myself. Maybe I’ll search for it when it’s out.