Book Review: Caraval

Book Review: CaravalCaraval by Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Pages: 407

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters' long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show's mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.
A mesmerising, magical and stunningly imaginative debut novel for anyone who loved The Night Circus and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.


Caraval is at the root, a tale of two sisters and their love for one another. They live an oppressive life under their abusive father and the eldest Scarlett, frequently wrote to the famous Legend, the mastermind behind the Caraval. It only appears in a place once and it appeared in their isle of Trisda 50 years ago. Scarlett begs Legend to come back and the sisters even try to run away when younger to attend. Of course, Legend finally writes back to Scarlett 10 days before she is too be married – to a Count she has never met, but she assumes will save her and her sister from her menacing father. In the letter are 3 tickets, one for each sister and one for Scarlett’s fiance.

Scarlett is too old for fairy tales and does not want to attend, but her sister Tella forces her – literally by having a companion of hers (a stunningly handsome sailor) kidnap her and take her to the Caraval. From the beginning Scarlett is warned about people not being who they seem and she is often too careful in her choices. She is set on the idea that they will only stay for a day and then leave with her sister. Her plans are changed when her sister is kidnapped and the objective of the game everyone is there to play.

Scarlett is beautiful yet modest and very chaste. She is waiting for her Count and assumes a man she has never met will help her in marriage. What she didn’t think would happen is that she would meet dashing Julian, who starts off as a sailor interested in her sister and then becomes much more. There’s a slight feel of danger to the world and lots of advice that is often not taken because Scarlett is untrusting.

I have to be honest, I loved the premise of the book and the twists of the plott, but I felt there was something missing. The magic didn’t capture me as much as I wanted to. I believe I was feeling much like Scarlet, being careful and suspicious at times of all the characters and advice throughout the book. That being said, I really enjoyed the characters – Scarlett’s more proper demeanor versus her sister Tella’s outgoing and cheerful nature. Dante, the brooding dark man of interest and Julian, the dashing yet sometimes mysterious and unsure of himself. He was quite the charmer and I’m surprised Scarlett could resist him for so long.


I read this in a day and could hardly put it down. I wasn’t completely swept away, but I was intrigued and am excited by the cliffhanger at the end. Definitely a series I will have to keep up with.


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