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Caraval (Caraval, #1) by Stephanie Garber
on January 31st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 407

Reaction Upon Reading: No words!

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


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

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.

“No one is truly honest,” Nigel answered. “Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”

Reactions, Ramblings and Questions:

  • I haven’t even read the synopsis for this book. I am going in blind and purely on the fact that all my Goodreads friends seem to be reading this.
  • I have somehow managed to read another circus book…and I am loving it.
  • Scarlett and Tella’s father is awful. Who on earth punishes the other sister instead of the one who has done wrong?! What a sick and twisted way to keep each other in line.
  • Argggg do we trust escaping…I don’t trust it.
  • I am fearful for who Scarlett is betrothed too. It is surely something that plays into the hand of her father and his need for power and control.
  • Oooh Tella how cunning.
  • I love the mystery surrounding the magic. The fact that we aren’t really what is real and what isn’t.
  • What would Scarlett do with one wish?
  • Tella is smart but I fear her father is smarter.
  • Has Julian tricked her? Or was this part of Tella’s plan?
  • Why is Scarlett such a special guest?
  • She doesn’t seem overly phased that she has no idea where her sister is?
  • Is Julian Caraval Master Legend?
  • Who is the boy with the black heart?
  • Oh dear, are these tunnels part of the game?
  • What even is the game?
  • I hate not knowing who to trust.
  • I just knew he was the boy with the black heart – but I seriously don’t trust him.
  • Two days of her life…what is going to happen now?!
  • I love that the currency for the items isn’t money but truth and secrets.
  • He is going to give her a day of his life? But why? Does he care for her or is this another ulterior motive?
  • Julian or Dante…I don’t know who to trust because surely you can’t trust both.
  • What secrets should she be afraid of?
  • Will she wish for Rosa to be returned if she wins?
  • How can it end there? Seriously?! I need more now.

“She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”

Overall Thoughts:

This is absolutely fantastic. I found this an intensely captivating and enchanting read. I seem to be on a bit of a circus buzz this month. This is the 3rd circus themed book I have picked up…and this one has the number one spot!

Scarlett and Tella once had the perfect family, that is until their mother vanished without a trace. Their father slowly turns more twisted and sick, punishing the girls and anyone who comes near them. Scarlett tries hard to protect Tella, the more free-spirited and wild of the two. She writes a letter every year to Caraval Master legend, the mastermind behind the infamous Caraval, where the winner of the game receives one wish!

Scarlett desperately wishes for a better life for her and sister. When two tickets show up on her doorstep, she knows she must break all of father rules before she is to be wed to a man she has never met. Enter Julian! Julian is Scarlett and Tella’s ticket away from their homeland. He is a simple sailor boy who for a small price can grant them safe passage. Once they leave their homeland the game really begins. Little do they realize that getting of the island they call home and to Caraval is the easy part.

Scarlett is separated from her sister Tella and in order for her to make it out alive and safe, she must win the game! The stakes for Caraval just got even higher. Scarlett does not know who to trust but you can guarantee she will do anything for her sister and their freedom.

What I love about this book is that it kept my mind whirring with predictions. Just when I thought I had worked something out or discovered someone’s true nature, the book would twist and turn throwing everything on its head. The game itself is so intricate – laced with puzzles, deception, magic and mystery. I so desperately wanted Scarlett to get her wish but in the end I couldn’t decide who I thought she should use it on. That speaks volumes about the character development and the way this book made me care about the characters!

Can you imagine if this were a movie!? The imagery and scene descriptions are so captivating and unique. I found myself on a few occasions putting the book down after a scene and playing it all back in my mind, thinking about how it would look on a grander scale. I seriously hope this is picked up and made a film because it’s just too good not too.

The thing I loved most was that the currency for the items wasn’t money but truth and secrets. That just made everyone’s stories and quirks that much more captivating. Money is money at the end of the day and you either have it or you don’t…but everyone has secrets and truths that they quite often don’t wish to share. MAGICAL! 

I have seen so much on social media about this book and due to this I tend to avoid those bandwagon TBR picks because I often don’t enjoy them…I just don’t like having high expectations for a book and being let down. In saying that, I don’t know what my expectations were but this surpassed them completely, I am so glad I chose to read this. I just want to curl up by the fire and read it all again. 

Favourite Character: Julian

What is not to love about this boy?!

I was so suspicious of who he was and what his motives were. One minute I was rooting for him and the next I was cowering in fear of his pending betrayal. I loved that there was a lot of mystery surrounding his character. He had played the games before and had a connection to the world of Caraval. It always felt like he had so much information and insight but was unwilling to trust and share himself. I think he is perfect for Scarlett and I hope something continues here in the next book.

Favourite secondary character: Aiko

Aiko is a fascinating player and piece of the Caraval magic. I love that she draws and lures Scarlett in with her charm and wit. Even though her future actions are less than desirable, she is ultimately they catalyst of Scarlett letting go and having fun during the game. She provides useful information and I feel like she genuinely wants Scarlett to succeed. I hope to see more of Aiko next book, I feel like she is a really unique character that can be developed further.

“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.”

Questions after reading:

  • What is the debt Tella owes?
  • Will the next book be from Tella’s perspective or maybe Legend’s?
  • Is Scarlett going to travel and perform alongside Julian?
  • Will their father seek revenge?
  • What about the Count?
  • Who is next to play the game?

2018?! You have got to be kidding me

What did you think of this book?

Leave a comment below.

Rating Report
Overall: five-stars

About Kassey

27-year-old teacher. Currently living in New Zealand with aspirations to travel the world and photograph it all.

27-year-old teacher. Currently living in New Zealand with aspirations to travel the world and photograph it all.

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