Posted in Reading, Review, Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber [Review]

I read this back in January but (eight months later) suddenly decided to review every book I’ve read this year. So, here I am.

First thing first: this book is completely magical. I’ve seen it about on Instagram and Twitter for so long surrounded by so much positive vibes that I was almost afraid to read it because I thought it would be overhyped and wouldn’t live up to the expectations. But Caraval surpassed all my expectations and more. I’ve always had an interest in circus/carnival themed books but I’ve never found one that really caught my attention until now.

+ The world is incredible

I just want to devour this world. Like, it’s so beautiful and vivid and completely believable even though it’s a world full of magic?? I just love it. It’s set in a carnival type island world (not really a proper carnival/circus), like the entire island is a game board.

I’ve seen a review where someone described it as a ‘grotesque Wonderland like world where the Mad Hatter is calling the shots’ and honestly I agree with everything about that statement. Someone else said it was ‘like Alice in Wonderland but sinister and with a vague circus vibe and like set in Venice’. So, basically, lots of Wonderland vibes.


+ The writing was also beautiful

What really stole my heart was the magical, almost fairytale-like writing style and narration. There’s so many vivid descriptions that were completely beautiful and didn’t feel too ‘flowery’ and just added to the magical vibe. I need to think of an adjective that isn’t ‘magical’.


+ T w i s t y

This book plays with the reader so well: it’s not only Scarlett playing the game, it’s also us. I felt as if I was also a player in a strange way. In some books, the characters are clueless and don’t see what’s right in front of them and that makes us readers just facepalm in frustrations trying to make them see what we see. This never happens in this book. Whenever Scarlett learns something new about the game, we learn it too.

Also, every single chapter had some sort of twist and it got me every single time. I predicted nothing. One minute I thought I had it all figured out, the next minute the storyline and characters took me in a completely different direction.


+ Bitter romance

I don’t usually pay much attention to romances in books (unless a relationship is literally the entire plot and storyline), but the budding romance between Scarlet and Julian was surprisingly one of my favourite things. Their tension grows throughout the book continually and sucked me in throughout the chapters, not having to rely on sexual or graphic scenes that distracted from the main story. I genuinely love how they spent so much time fighting but still clearly cared about each other.


One more very quick point that I won’t explain at all: it’s so refreshing to read a sister story where they actually care about each other.

Caraval is a beautiful story about sisterhood and adventures, full of amazing characters thrown into a magically dark world.

Rating: ★★★★☆


Some quotes:

  • “Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
  • “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.”
  • “Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.”
  • “Some would probably call him a villain. Others would say his magic makes him closer to a god.”



On a cold Autumn evening back in 2008, seven-year-old Tegan Anderson began to write their first short stories, finding a more creative way to learn their spellings. Many years and many more short stories later, they haven't stopped for anything. Now, they're writing more than they ever believed possible. Tegan may write the worlds they would prefer to exist in but currently lives in Devon with their overflowing bookshelves and expanding imagination.

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