Review: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber



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.


Scarlett has always wanted to visit Caraval. She has been writing to Legend since she was a little girl. Legend has never responded to her letters, until she receives tickets to go and join Caraval. Scarlett and her sister Tella are emotionally and physically abused by their father. They have always wanted to escape his cruelty. Scarlett thinks that marrying her fiance, who she has never met before, is the answer to her problems; while Tella thinks running away and joining Caraval is the answer.

This started off really strong for me. I was very intrigued and engrossed with the story. I was just slightly bored about 70% of the way. It might just be me. I think I was in a book slump. I must admit that I really took the saying “it’s just a game” to heart. There was some pretty magical stuff happening in the book, and I just didn’t know if I was supposed to believe that the things happening were possible, or if it was all just special effects. I didn’t know if magic was truly real in the Caraval world, or if all of it was really just part of the game. I discovered the truth at the end, and I must say that it left me a little confused. I feel so silly, because when I read reviews, no one else seemed to be confused.

I’m looking forward to what the author may do with the second book. The ending of Caraval left me intrigued and excited.




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