Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber | Sisterhood and Magic?

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Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Genre: Fantasy | Young Adult
My Rating: 3/5 stars

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.

My thoughts

When I read the synposis for this book my thought was: “A novel about siblings, magic, and a little Hunger Games-esque?! Sign me up! I love reading about sibling relationships.” Unfortunately, Caraval was not at all what I had hoped. There wasn’t a lot of world-building or character development. I noticed patterns of thinking in Scarlett’s narration that I hoped would lead to character growth, but that never happened.

What I liked

+ What I loved about Caraval was the sisterhood. It’s very obvious that Scarlett and Tella care about each other deeply and are protective of one another. That relationship is what drew in me into the story and that love was weaved beautifully throughout the story.

+ The writing was beautiful and very descriptive. Sometimes, I had to read a sentence a few times because it felt like there was no real meaning to the words. Regardless, I liked the writing.

+ I also enjoyed the mysteriousness of Legend. He was intriguing and unpredictable. I’m actually interested to see what direction she takes this character.

What I disliked

I don’t want to say the instalove fell completely flat, but it did. They needed more meaningful interactions and experiences together for me to believe Scarlett had fallen in love instead of lust. I don’t think Julian was a terrible love interest. I think the bad boy trope was played up a little bit too much and I never really got to know Julian as a character. Sometimes, I found him incredibly annoying because he repeatedly called her Crimson, which I didn’t find endearing.

The character development for the other characters, especially their father, Governor Dragna. Governor Dragna is cruel and abusive towards his daughters and nothing in story showed the motivation for any of his actions.

The pacing was slow and the lies were kind of exhausting. I felt mentally exhausted for Scarlett. Scarlett is broken from years of abuse and childhood trauma at the hands of her father. Both of the girls are. Caraval seemed to only add to the trauma.


If you’re in the mood for something with twists, lies, and a little magic, I think you’ll enjoy this.

Did you read Caraval? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!

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2 thoughts on “Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber | Sisterhood and Magic?

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