Caraval (Caraval #1)

Read on 20th February, 2017

Author: Stephanie Garber


3 Stars

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Having heard really mixed reviews (mostly of the “meh” connotation) I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this one.

The writing was great, the world was interesting and overall it was fairly entertaining. I read it in one sitting.

That said, I did have some issues.

I really wasn’t a fan of the characters.

Scarlet grew on me and I actually ended up liking her, Julian was kind of “meh” but I liked him well enough and the little we knew about Legend interested me.

As for everyone else… not really a fan. I understand that dislike for the Governor and the Count is expected but I really disliked Tella; I found her to be selfish and not at all a good sister. I felt that, even though she was the younger sibling, she patronised Scarlet and looked down upon her because she was cautious. I took issue with a lot of her actions and something about her just rubbed me the wrong way.

The plot was interesting and had several unexpected twists. That said, I felt like it romanticised death and suicide, using it as a plot device, which is not cool. There were several instances where it felt unnecessary and I just feel like it wasn’t dealt with well or in a sensitive way at all.

Here’s a link to a good thread on the topic:… However, she does go into spoilers.

Trigger warnings for suicide and parental abuse.

While it was an okay read and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone, I am intrigued enough to continue with the series.

Let’s Discuss!

Have you read Caraval? If so, what were your thoughts? There seems to be a lot of mixed opinions around this one.

I read Caraval for The Ya Room‘s February book of the month. Are any other fellow Melbournians coming to the discussion next week?

15 thoughts on “Caraval (Caraval #1)

  1. Haha for me, it’s the opposite! I’ve heard only good things about this one, and I must admit I was expecting another glowing review aha. But it’s interesting to read about a different perspective on the book! Can’t wait to read this and see for myself haha. Lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just read this and I couldn’t agree with you more about Tella as well. I found her to be so ungrateful and annoying, I just couldn’t handle it. I really enjoyed caraval. I was kind of like you. I’d seen mixed reviews so I wasn’t expecting much but I found the world to be so inviting and magical I just couldn’t stop reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you agree! Yeah, she was the worst… I also feel like she got worse as the book went on. I was rather intrigued by the world, though I feel some things weren’t consistent? It was overall enjoyable though 🙂 Thanks for commenting!


    1. I have heard people comparing them, but as I general rule I hear people who go into Caraval with that mindset often get disappointed. So maybe just keep it in the back of your mind when reading instead? I haven’t read The Night Circus so I couldn’t say. Thanks for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have it on my shelf, so I’ll definitely have to check it out! Also, I’ve heard the audiobook is great too. I’d be interested to hear your opinions of Caraval, but don’t prioritise it too high – it wasn’t that great.


    1. Yeah, I wasn’t really a fan. It’s not something I’d usually read but it is good to read outside of one’s comfort zone every now and then. Thanks for commenting, have an awesome day 🙂


    1. Haha yeah, I think Tella was worse but we just got more of Scarlet. I saw a thread on twitter before reading and it makes a lot of sense! I also just had a lot of issues with that part (and the whole book tbh)

      Liked by 1 person

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