Review: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber [Spoiler Free]


Caraval (Untitled, #1)Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Published: January 31 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Pages: 401
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – BooktopiaHachette Australia
Follow Stephanie Garber on Twitter

Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

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** Thank you Hachette Australia for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review **


Scarlett and Tella grew up listening to their grandmother’s magical stories about Caraval, a kind of interactive performance that requires personal invites to attend. The girls have always wanted to attend, but never had the means. Unbeknownst to Tella, Scarlett has been writing letters to Caraval’s leader, Legend, for years. Scarlett is shocked to find that Legend not only writes her back, but also includes tickets. Events go down and Scarlett is taken to a magical island where Caraval is taking place. It’s definitely not what she imagined though and Scarlett discovers that Tella has been taken and it’s now part of the game to find her. Scarlett’s main focus now is getting Tella back without getting too swept away with the illusions of Caraval because “it’s only a game“, right?

The writing in Caraval is absolutely magical. If you’re looking for a whimsical fantasy that will sweep you away then this is 100% that book. The setting in this book is so vivid you’re able to imagine everything so perfectly. You’ll question everything that’s happen and it will feel as though you’re playing the game of Caraval as much as Scarlett is. Stephanie Garber created such an interesting and unique world.

I really liked Scarlett as a main character. She’s stubborn, headstrong and incredibly loyal to her sister. Scarlett does make some not so great decisions, but they’re done out of a desperate need to find her sister. I’m okay with characters making some bad decisions if they’re done for the right reasons. We don’t get to see her much, but Tella is a great side character too. Scarlett and Tella are quite opposite of each other, but are a good balance and I hope we get to see more of their sister relationship develop in upcoming books.

If you’ve been here for a while you’ll know that I rarely enjoy the romance in books. Well, the romance in Caraval even managed to win me over. Scarlett’s love interest Julian should have been someone I disliked because he was quite arrogant at times, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with him. I maybe even developed a slight crush. There was such a great chemistry between him and Scarlett. There was no instalove and whilst I wouldn’t say their romance was a slow build, it definitely wasn’t instant.

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

My favourite thing about Caraval was easily the world and the game. I felt like I was transported to this magical and mystical island, partaking in everything that was happening. There isn’t a ton of world building, but in this case it worked. It made everything seem so much more alluring and enchanting. Stephanie Garber’s writing is so vivid and beautiful I could still imagine everything perfectly. It’s hard to believe that this is her debut novel because it is so incredibly polished. The game was so fast paced and high stakes my interest didn’t wander once and that is a huge accomplishment.

There’s so many little details and developments along the way that intertwines the characters perfectly and everything is interwoven together so perfectly. There’s great twists along the way too that I guarantee you won’t see coming. This is a story about adventure, sisterhood and standing up for yourself that just so happens to have the added bonus of being set in a fantastical land.

Whilst I haven’t read The Night Circus I know that Caraval has been compared to that. However, from what I can base from that book I think Caraval is actually quite different. I wouldn’t go into this book expecting a similar story because you could potentially be disappointed. Caraval stands on its own and is truly a magical read. I recommend this to everyone because the hype is definitely real. This was was one of my favourite reads of last year and if I had read it this year I know it would have easily made it onto my favourites of 2017 list too.

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”



Have you read Caraval or is it on your TBR?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I hope you’re all having a fantastic day!

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29 thoughts on “Review: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber [Spoiler Free]

  1. Great review, Lauren! I’m so excited for this book. I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to read it anytime soon, but I’m definitely hoping to get to it at some point this year. Everyone seems to love it so much, hopefully I do too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved Caraval as well. I really enjoyed Scarlett as the protagonist, but I actually didn’t like Tella very much at all. She seemed really selfish to me, and I felt sorry for Scarlett even though Tella’s actions ultimately helped Scarlett.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a great review, Lauren! I am happy to hear you enjoyed this book so much. There have been SO much hype around this title, I’m a bit nervous about reading it myself, because I don’t want to be disappointed. I’m glad to hear you weren’t, and that even the romance won you over. I’m a bit more excited than nervous to read that one someday, now, so thank you 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review for this book Lauren. I got my hands on an ARC of Caraval as well and loved it, at the moment it’s actually my favourite read of 2017! I’m glad to see you enjoyed this one too.
    The writing and the world building was my favourite part of this book, it made me want to love in that world just so I could take part in Caraval as well. I really enjoyed reading about Scarlett and Julian’s adventures and their interactions as well, I also really enjoyed reading about Scarlett and Tella and their relationship as sisters as well. Although Tella wasn’t in the book much you could tell how close they were.
    Given how much you enjoyed this book do you plan on picking up The Night Circus one day? I don’t think the stories are similar but given you loved this book I think you’ll enjoy that one as well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just recently finished Caraval and loved it so much!! I agree that the world and atmosphere was definitely the best part 😍 Julian wasn’t too bad either 😉😂 I’m so excited for the sequel, especially after that cliffhanger at the very end!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This has been on my tbr for a long time, I have heard great things about it. This sounds like it has an interesting plot with an intriguing setting, which it’s something that I would like. You made me want to read it even more with your review, now I can’t wait to read about Julian and Scarlett since I’m a big fan of a good romance. Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I definitely got The Night Circus vibes from reading the synopsis of the book but I’m glad that Caraval retains it’s own identity. I love that this book is as magical as it sounds and the intertwining links are always a plus. I was already excited to read this book and now I’m even more excited. Great review. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Fantastic review, Lauren!! I’ve been wanting to read Caraval for ages now, and I’m so glad I’ll finally be able to get my hands on it! Also, I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed Caraval’s romance – I’m always mildly concerned about romance in YA books!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve heard so so so many wonderful things about Caraval, and I’m really excited to read it! ❤ It sounds like a book full of magic and wonder, and I love reading those books. It’s these kind of books that remind me of the magic of reading. 😀

    Thank you for this wonderful review, Lauren! I’m certain I’ll love this book – it’s only a matter of time until I read it for myself. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Lauren! As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of this book – I liked it enough, but I didn’t love it as much as the hype made me expect to. I agree with you that the writing was super beautiful and suited to the atmosphere of the story, though! It was vivid and lush and magical, and it’s definitely a treat. I kind of want to see it on the big screen. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great review, Lauren! I’m so happy you enjoyed this!! I’ve been wanting to read it, and then it was in January’s FairyLoot box so I got my hands on it much sooner than I thought I would haha! I can definitely see why it’s compared to The Night Circus, but I’m glad that it stands its own ground. I’m also pleased that you enjoyed the romance because I find that more often than not I just can’t connect with romance subplots. Hopefully I’ll get around to reading it soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi, I found your blog while searching for book bloggers on here and I’m glad I did. I have this book on my TBR and hope its all I dream it will be. 🙂 I haven’t read Night Circus either but it is being compared to that one alot. I’m glad to see you think it was a worthy read as I’m hoping to get to it soon. I’m not usually a fan of romance in YA books either because its always instalove and love triangles. Guess we will see how it turns out! Happy reading!


  13. Your review just made me want to read this book even more, Lauren! It sounds like such a magical and incredible story and I love that it has a sibling focus with a little bit of romance on the side. I’m going to have to get around to this as soon as I can buy the book and get the chance to read it. Great review as always!! 💕😊


  14. Ah, this does sound intriguing, but for some reason I still don’t want to add it to my TBR! I don’t know why I keep resisting it. 😂


  15. Oh wow, I was a bit reluctant to pick this up because I was afraid it’d just be another overhyped book, but you’ve totally won me over with your incredible review! I love books where you start to feel like you’re one of the characters & start to question whether what’s happening is real or not (like in Night Film!) I REALLY want to go out & buy a copy ASAP now xD


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