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I Belong

Early Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

caravalTitle: Caraval

Author: Stephanie Garber

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Caraval (Book #1)

Publication Date: January 31, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages

ISBN-10: 1250095255 (Flatiron/Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-1250095251 (Flatiron/Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Kristie


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 . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval—Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

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.

Quick & Dirty: Dark, intriguing YA story that sucked me in to a colorful, yet, deary world. This was a wonderful read that I highly recommend for fans of YA fantasy.

Opening Sentence: It took seven years to get the letter right.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I’m just going to start off this review by saying I loved Caraval. This novel did walk a fine line on the dark side (which I love). I was instantly hooked by all the things unsaid and couldn’t wait to find out how events would unravel as the story progressed. Unfortunately, I had to put the book down because of life and I all I could think about was the story until I could get back to it.

Scarlet and her sister Donatella lead a sheltered life. Their father only gives them a modicum of freedom. Scarlet and Tella live their lives in fear of their next beating and their father is ruthless when it comes to punishment. Scarlet thinks she has their situation solved when her father has arranged a marriage for her. She believes that her father will send her and Tella away to wherever her future husband lives.

Scarlet has always been fascinated with a magical event called Caraval. She has written to them year after year to see if Caraval would come to her island since her father won’t let her travel to visit the event. But this year, she writes to tell them not to bother since she will never be able to see it anyways, she is about to be married. Three tickets arrive with an invitation to Caraval which starts in three days. Scarlet won’t chance it with her marriage just barely two weeks away. She also doesn’t want to piss of her abusive father because she knows what he will do if they “disappear.”

The story that follows is fascinating, descriptive and splendid! I devoured this book as quickly as I could and it ended up being a fast read for me since I was so invested in the story. I got swept up into the intrigue and kept trying to guess what was going to happen next. This world is magical and crazy and I couldn’t believe some of the things that happened. I had my suspicions about some things but overall I was strangely pleased how the events played out.

I started off the novel not liking Tella at all. I thought she was a spoiled, selfish brat until I realized that was far from the truth. Scarlet is the sad, overprotective, broken sister whose only hope is to take her sister when she gets married anticipating a better life for the both of them. When Tella “disappears” all Scarlet can think about is finding Tella quickly and going back home in time to grovel before her wedding. Caraval uses lies, fear and pleasure in order to change the people playing the game, so Scarlet will not be the same person she was when the game ends. I loved the spark between Scarlet and Julian. I was a bit surprised at the romance considering she couldn’t be sure if she trusted him or not.

Scarlet can see emotions in color so there are some very colorful, descriptive writings inside the novel. Caraval is quite a strange place that I would say reminds me a bit of Alice in Wonderland and Labyrinth.

Overall, Caraval is a young adult novel that is quite on the dark side of things so I wouldn’t recommend for those really young readers. I thought Caraval could have been a standalone and it really could have been but then there was a teaser for the sequel. My gut told me “I knew it!” and I am already eagerly anticipating the sequel!

Notable Scene:

She ran her hands over the material of her dress to make sure it wasn’t just a trick of the mirror or the light. Or maybe in her frozen state she’d only thought the dress had been drab before. But deep down Scarlett knew there was only one explanation. Legend had given her an enchanted gown.

Magic like this was only supposed to live in stories, but this dress was very real, leaving Scarlett unsure what to think. The child inside her loved it; the grown-up Scarlett wasn’t sure she felt quite comfortable in it—whether it was magical or not. Her father would never have let her wear something so eye-catching, and even though he wasn’t there, attention was still not a thing she craved.

Scarlett was a pretty girl, though she often liked to hide it. She’d inherited her mother’s thick dark hair, which complemented her olive skin. Her face was more of an oval than Tella’s, with a petite nose and hazel eyes so large she always felt they gave away too much.

For a moment she almost wished for the drab beige frock. No one noticed girls in ugly clothes. Maybe if she thought about it, the dress would shift again. But even as she visualized a simpler cut and a plainer color, the cherry gown remained vibrant and tight, clinging to curves she’d rather have concealed.

Julian’s cryptic words came to mind—I can see why he sent you tickets—and Scarlett wondered if she’d found a way to escape her father’s deadly games on Trisda, only to become a well-costumed piece on a new game board.

Caraval Series:

1. Caraval

glitter crown


FTC Advisory: Flatiron Books/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Caraval. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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One Response to “Early Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

  1. Kimberly VanderbloomNo Gravatar

    Thank you for reviewing. I pre ordered it

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