ARC Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Caraval by Stephanie Garber
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Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication: January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books
Length: 401 pages
Format: ARC

Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and 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.

CARAVAL was one of my most anticipated books of 2017, and it’s definitely worth the hype. Trust me. CARAVAL follows two sisters, Scarlett and Tella, as they try to run away from their father and join the dangerous yet intriguing game of Caraval, a magical game that only comes once each year. When Tella becomes a part of the game, Scarlett joins with Julian to try to find her before the game ends.

The concept of this book was incredibly interesting, and it was so easy to get sucked in. I loved the different forms of writing; while the prose was so gorgeous, I also liked the incorporation of letters and notes throughout the novel. In terms of writing style, it was fantastic. Garber has a knack of writing so it feels like you’re a part of the book too. The writing style was simply gorgeous—the use of metaphors and other conventions didn’t seem out of place; it just flowed so well.

The characters were also so dynamic and compelling to read about. Each of the characters have a background that Garber smoothly reveals throughout each chapter and gives the novel much more depth than I could have anticipated.  I loved the conflicts and tensions between each of the characters because the twists that came up were so much more personal and complex. The romance between Scarlett and Julian was also super compelling and romantic; those two are definitely going to make it on my list of adorable ships. Not only that, the bond between Scarlett and Tella was so profound and lovely; Garber forms such a deeply-felt sibling relationship, and I’m grateful that this novel didn’t just focus on the romance.

The only reservation I have is that despite how much I liked the juicy history of Caraval and Legend, the creator of the game, I was still a bit confused by the end. Don’t get me wrong, the twists were super exciting to read about and I appreciate how much thought went into the background of Caraval; it just felt like sometimes there were aspects that felt too convoluted to be the truth. However, if you read this carefully enough, I’m sure understanding the twists and the history will not be difficult.

Overall, CARAVAL was a compelling and gorgeously-written debut. The first novel ends with a minor cliffhanger, and I’m more than excited to read the next book. With a beautiful cover and even more beautiful writing, CARAVAL is definitely not one to miss this year!

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Thank you to Flatiron Books for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and no compensation was awarded with this review. 

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Are you planning to read CARAVAL? Let me know your thoughts below!


27 thoughts on “ARC Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

  1. I have this on preorder and started getting down becasue I’ve read some really negative reviews, even a DNF. I’m so happy to read that you found it to be a great debut and marked it 4.5 out of 5.


  2. I’ve seen this around a lot but hadn’t bothered looking at the synposis. It sounds really good but the wording puts me off a little? (I think I’m being super picky). I’m so glad this lived up to the hype though. It makes me so happy when the author manages to develop more than just the main character and beautiful prose always makes me happy! I will definitely be adding this to my TBR list. Fantastic review!

    Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf


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