Book Review – Caraval

Posted March 20, 2017 by Kathy in 4.5 Stars, Book Review / 10 Comments

Book Review – CaravalCaraval Series: Caraval #1
by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31, 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 407
Format: Ebook
Source: Publisher
Buy on AmazonBarnes & Noble

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. 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.


4.5 Stars for Caraval! This is an exciting fantasy debut from author Stephanie Garber. I loved this!

I’ve seen Caraval mentioned on a lot of blogs last year so I was curious to find out what the hype was. I was drawn in from the first chapter and I could not put this book down. This book deserves all the attention it is getting and everyone should read this!

What did I like?

  • Right away I felt a connection with the sisters, Scarlet and Tella. After their mother abandoned them Scarlet took on the older sister role seriously and raised her younger sister Tella. This was difficult since Tella was often reckless and often breaking their father’s strict rules. Breaking his rules often led to physical punishment, which Scarlet often received to protect her sister. It was awful to see the abuse the girls had to endure so I was cheering them on to run for safety.
  • The world of Caraval is magical! The title appears to be a circus or carnival themed book but in fact Caraval is a mysterious island. All the details were unique and enchanting. The island is a game so the clues are creative and everything had a touch of magic. From Scarlet’s gown magically changing to match her mood to the price she had to pay to purchase items (I don’t want to spoil it), I was blown away with the author’s imagination.
  • The story has so many twists to it I was guessing all the way to the end. This book is not just about the game but about taking chances. Scarlet has always been protective of her sister and made safe choices. On the island the obvious choice is not always the right one, so it was good to see Scarlet learn to take a chance and gain confidence to protect herself and her sister. There is a romance that was surprising but not the focus of the story. This was good because I wanted Scarlet to be independent, since she spent so many years fearful of her father.


What didn’t I like?

  • At first I didn’t like Tella. I thought she was a spoiled brat and caused too many problems for Scarlet.  But she does redeem herself at the end.


Caraval is a fun adventure and I highly recommend this book.  I can’t wait to read the next book.


Favorite quote

Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.

Rating Report
Overall: four-half-stars

About Stephanie Garber

I’m the international and New York Times bestselling author of Caraval.

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.

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.

My debut YA fantasy novel, Caraval is out now (Flatiron Books/Macmillan—US and Hodder & Stoughton—UK). Caraval has sold in over twenty-five foreign territories and the movie rights were picked by Twentieth Century Fox.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2017 New Release Challenge


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10 responses to “Book Review – Caraval

    • Kathy

      This was a nice surprise and an impressive debut for this author. I hope you enjoy this too. Thanks Katherine!

    • Kathy

      It’s a crazy world. It reminded me a little bit of Alice in Wonderland but without the nonsense and talking in riddles (that drives me crazy lol). Thanks Kristen!

    • Kathy

      This was a nice surprise. I get a little worried when books get a lot of hype but this deserves it. I can’t wait to read the next book! Thank you for stopping by!