Book Reviews

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

🌟4.5 stars🌟

I saw a lot of mixed reviews for this book on Goodreads, so I decided to give it a try for myself. I loved the concept of Caraval and learning more about the game and how it’s played. Although, I was annoyed by Scarlett for the entirety of this book, it was an enjoyable read overall.

To start off I think that this book would be great for people that enjoy:

  • Action in the first chapter
  • Fast-paced novels
  • Carnivals
  • Mysterious characters
  • “Bad Boy” trope
  • Scavenger hunts


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.

“Welcome, welcome to Caraval! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. You can sip magic from a cup and buy dreams in a bottle. But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game.”

This story focuses on sisters, Scarlett and Donatella Dragna, two teenagers that have wished to attend Caraval for years. Scarlett Dragna has been writing to the Caraval master, Legend, for the past seven years of her life. Every year she has wished for Caraval to come to the isle where her family lives, so that her and her sister can enjoy the wonders for Caraval, but has never gotten a response back until now. With the help of a mysterious sailor named Julian, they are transported to Legend’s private isle to finally see Caraval for themselves. However, when Donatella disappears, Scarlett must race against the clock to save her sister and secure the grand prize: one impossible wish.

This book hooked me in beginning and never let go.There was always some sort of action or mystery to be solved in each chapter, so I felt like it progressed at a good pace. It was so hard to put this book down. With every chapter, we learned more about the intricacies of Caraval as well as how far people are willing to go for an adventure or to win.

As for the characters, I was not very fond of Scarlett. As much as I loved the clues and figuring out what decisions to make; I felt like Scarlett majority of the time made the wrong decision and someone else would have to help her out of whatever mess she made herself. She was annoying and I did not feel that she learned from the mistakes she made until the ending of the book.

However, I felt like Julian really kept this book going for me. He was continually the voice of reason whenever Scarlett got herself into a terrible situation. His character was also surrounded by enough intrigue that I wanted to keep reading to learn more about how exactly he plays into this story and his motivation behind his actions.

I also disliked Donatella for the majority of this book, because I felt that she was selfish and uncaring, but i did develop respect for her towards the ending as well. She proved to be smarter and more cunning than Scarlett is, so I look forward to her point of view in Legendary.

Even within the book, it states to not get too carried away, but the world-building was so perfect that it was hard to not get carried away in the world of Caraval. Overall, Caraval was a magical read filled with intrigue and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.

5 thoughts on “Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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