Book Review: Caraval – Stephanie Garber

3 Stars

Blurb: 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.’


I was super late to the party on this one. It’s been sat on my book shelf for absolutely ages, so by the time I got around to reading it, I had heard about the hype surrounding it. I kind of wish I hadn’t been aware of the huge hype for this book, because now I’m not sure if I’m judging it unfairly… but we’ll see.

Firstly, I don’t understand why there was so much hype. In my opinion, the last 100 or so pages of the book were the best bit but even then, it wasn’t mind-blowing. Until I got to that point, I was adamant that I wouldn’t be continuing with the series. But the last 100 pages have intrigued me and now I’m not sure what to do! Anyway….

Firstly, I hated Scarlett. I couldn’t take to her at all. She’s so selfish and so tragic and helpless. Seriously, get a grip girl. At some points, she was more concerned about chasing after an attractive boy than finding her sister. Sort your priorities out love!! I actually preferred her sister the whole way through the book. And I’m so glad that she ends up being a bigger character than what we were led to believe.

Secondly, some of the metaphors used in the book had me SO confused! For example: ‘He tasted like midnight.’

Can someone please explain what midnight would taste like, because not surprisingly, I couldn’t imagine it at all.

Lastly, the story lacked context. One of the first pages in the book is a map. If you have a map in a book, you’d expect to read about the various locations and the context of the world it’s set it. But there was NOTHING. I had no idea where the story was set, no idea of the history of the world that it was set it… ARGH!

I know I sound like I’m doing nothing but moan about this book, but I really can’t understand what the hype was about. That being said, it did keep me guessing. I didn’t know which characters could be trusted and at some points in the book I couldn’t tell what was real and what was Scarlett’s imagination. I managed to keep reading and finish the book so it wasn’t all bad.

Will I read the next book in the series? I’m really not sure. I was so excited to read Caraval and I feel SO let down. I’m hoping that the second book will have a faster pace and be less centered around annoying, boring Scarlet. But I’m really not sure if I’m willing to waste my time finding out whether I’m right or not. We’ll see.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Add yours

  1. I felt the same way! It lacked something for me! I still plan on reading the second…and probably because enough time has passed in between.

    But yes, it didn’t live up to ALL of the hype that was built up around it…not that it was bad or anything, it just didn’t hit me the way I expected it to!


  2. Hahaha. Loved your review. Trying to decide if my favourite part i “Sort your priorities out love!!” or trying ti figure out the “tasting like midnight” metaphor.
    I’ve been on the fence about this one but have started leaning more towards maybe not.


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