Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Favorite Exerpts:

Page 42:

A breeze cut through the room, blowing out every candle but the one illuminating Legend. Scarlett could not clearly see his face, but she would have sworn something about him changed, as if he’d suddenly acquired an extra shadow.

Page 106:

She remembered her first impression of him, tall, roughly handsome, and dangerous, like poison dressed up in an attractive bottle.

My Review:

I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but… well, look at it! It’s absolutely gorgeous. And, in case you’re wondering, yes. It does actually sparkle. I foresee many pictures in the future.

The character development is done in a way that you can imagine being right next to each of them and interacting with them on a personal level. There are occasions where it gets a little rambley, but for the most part it’s very well done. Stephanie Garber has done a beautiful job of sprinkling bits and pieces of the characters through the story so we can learn who they are while still allowing for character growth from the beginning to the end. I think my favorite character was Julian because holy roses there was a lot going on there.

The world building is brilliantly done. It’s so incredibly immersive that I am still having trouble pulling myself out of it a day later. A thorough yet simple visual explanation of each space as well as the nuances that bring it to life are given, which allowed me to dive completely into the world of Caraval and never want to leave. It is, in a word, flawless.

The story itself is a dark circus themed tale, which brings The Night Circus to my mind. The similarities stop there, though, as Caraval is a unique and stunning novel all its own. The flow of the story is nicely paced, varying appropriately throughout the novel. It felt completely natural while I was reading it. Nothing was lingered on to the point of boredom and nothing felt rushed.

Caraval also caters heavily to my plot twist addiction. They were frustrating and unexpected and beautiful. I will admit to being a bit frustrated by one or two of them but overall, the plot twists were excellent and moved the story along nicely.

The writing itself… Oh my gosh, bookworms. The writing is so poetic that I feel the appropriate term for it is art. The words flow in a beautiful way I was not expecting or prepared for. They bring to mind a painter, slowly and meticulously using brush strokes to create a masterpiece or the deliberately graceful movements of a dancer bringing a story to life with their body. It is absolutely stunning!

The only thing I can say I disliked was the Epilogue, which gives the novel a cliff-hanger ending. If you’ve been around a while, you know I absolutely can not stand a cliff-hanger and will usually take a bookworm away from the rating because of it. However, given the overall exquisite piece of art that is the rest of this novel, I’ve decided not to take away from the rating this time. Caraval lives up to every single bit of the hype and I can not wait to read more of the exquisite work of Stephanie Garber.

Overall, I rate Caraval 5 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Read Caraval and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

For more information about Stephanie Garber and her work, check out her website.


6 thoughts on “Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

  1. Was really excited to get this, but I am saving up atm (just got Heartless and Six of Crows, so it’ll be a long while). Hopefully it is so great that when I read it, it is still relevant! Good to see you liked it 😀

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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