Caraval by Stephanie Garber – Book Review

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – Book Review

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.


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


My entire perspective on the idea of a game was completely changed after reading this book. Nothing was as it seemed, no matter how much I wanted to think it was. For some reason, when I was first looking at the cover and reading the synopsis, I was thinking that somehow there was going to be a carnival or a circus involved.  So many people kept comparing it to The Night Circus and I hadn’t read that one yet.

But this was not what I was expecting.

For seven whole years, Scarlett would write to Caraval Master Legend, asking if she and her sister could attend the games.  Each year she wrote to him and for six years she never received a response.  But this year, everything changed when she finally got an invitation to attend this year’s Caraval games.  Surprisingly, she received three tickets: one for herself, one for her sister Donatella, and one that was left blank – an open ticket for whoever they wanted to bring with them.

How strange. How interesting. How suspicious.

I will skip what happens on the Isle of Trisda – the home of Scarlett and Tella – and the treatment they get from their father because it was hurtful and a part of me wished that something terrible would happen to him. I won’t say more than that, but if you do end up reading this book, you’ll understand why.

The game of Caraval takes place on its own island, in a place that is filled with its own kind of magic.  The game lasts for five nights, and everything that Scarlett thought she knew goes out the window.  Not only does her sister somehow become a part of the game by getting kidnapped (no, this isn’t a spoiler if you read the synopsis that’s included in this post), but Scarlett feels like this year’s game is somehow revolved around the Dragna sisters.  Is there something about Caraval that isn’t a game?

Will Scarlett get too swept away and fall into madness?

Will she survive the games?

If you think you know what’s happening in this book, you’re probably wrong. And when you think you’ve figured everything out, you haven’t.

This was one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read this year.  It kept me on the edge of my seat. I was audibly reacting to the story to the point that my puppies were freaking out. This doesn’t happen always, but when it does, I love it.  I highly suggest everyone read this book at least once in your life. Thank goodness there is going to be another book coming out sometime next year, because the ending had me screaming.

Literally screaming.

Rated: 5/5 

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