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Book Reviews

Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Caraval by Stephanie Garber


There’s more to life than staying safe…

Caraval promised so much, and as with all books with tremendous hype, I was nervous going in. This was justified. The plot has brilliant potential, that just fell flat. I actually like whimsical writing and flowery similes, but some of the similes in this book were just too much.

The spray smelled of daisies and urine…

The pace is slow – the first 100 pages occur before the game even begins – and it’s very repetitive. Much of the story is just Scarlett’s angst and she wasn’t a character I felt much for. In fact, the characters are very stereotypical and with little substance to entice me to want to root for any of them.

Once inside you will be presented with a mystery that must be solved…

The world-building is flimsy and unsubstantial, giving the impression that, like cardboard, it could all blow over with the slightest breeze. This contributed to my difficulty in becoming more invested in the story.

… but the taste of his blood remained.

There were a few elements of the game that were good (look out for Nigel) and the twists were all unpredictable, but they were extremely confusing and unmemorable. I know I will not remember the ending – a dreaded cliff-hanger –  when it comes to the sequel.

The world tasted like ashes and lies…

The story comes across as juvenile and I think (minus the romance and abuse – which would be an improvement) this would be better suited to middle-grade readers.

He tasted like midnight and the wind, and shades of rich brown and light blue…

It is difficult not to compare Caraval with The Night Circus where Erin Morgenstern cleverly uses its confusing plot as an advantage and The Game by Diana Wynne Jones which is my favourite middle-grade fantasy.

3 star

it’s not all bad, but for me – it is just an okay story.


Title: Caraval
Series: Caraval #1
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication Date: 31 January 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Source: Purchased


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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.   — Abstract from Goodreads.com



  1. Susan Dyer

    I feel like I’m the last person to read this book!

  2. Lonna

    Hypes around books are the worst–promising so much only to fall flat. I have a habit of reading YA books before it gets saturate with reviews of way after, so I can avoid hypes. =) Regardless, I’m glad it was a decent experience.

  3. Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    Aww…I’ve seen so many great reviews for this one so it’s interesting to see a review from someone like you who was a bit ambivalent about it. Nonetheless, thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

  4. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Yeah, I definitely had a few problems with the book, particularly the characterisation and the simplicity of the plot. But I enjoyed the atmosphere definitel. Lovely review!

  5. ShootingStarsMag

    Thanks so much for your honest thoughts – I do appreciate it! I’m curious about this one, but not in a really BIG way. I think it would be a library pick if I did ever read it. Sorry the beginning was so repetitive though!


    p.s. I shared one of your reviews here: https://letsgetbeyondtolerance.blogspot.com/2017/03/rainbow-roundup-youre-welcomequeens-of.html

  6. Zezee @ Zezee with Books

    I totally agree with you. I disliked this one though I started it with high hopes. I think I wouldn’t disliked it as much as I did if it wasn’t marketed as being like The Night Circus, which, apart from having a circus, it’s not.

  7. Mareli Thalwitzer

    I was wondering about this one…. it does travel around, but I’m not overly excited to get my hands on it.

    Thanks for a great and honest review.

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