Review: Caraval // Strange, Magical, and Enchanting

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RATING : 45-stars

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Going into a hyped book could be utterly terrifying. There’s always that dreaded question of “what if I don’t like this book?”. That’s why I was so, so wary of starting Caraval, especially since I’ve been in fantasy slump for the past 3 months. But wow, this book was pretty amazing! It reminded me of how much I love fantasy and got me back in the game. Though I kinda bounced between 4 and 5 stars the whole time I was reading it. Basically this is how I felt :

  • Whoa this book is off to a great start
  • I love it! I think it’s gonna be a 5-stars
  • Well this is a bit slow, maybe not 5-stars
  • Definitely not 5-stars, maybe 4?
  • But I like the magic and the characters and I shipped them so much
  • I think I’ll still go with 5
  • What is this ending??? 4-stars will do
  • I still really enjoyed it, I’ll settle with 4.5 stars

But heeeyyy you’re not here to see snippets of my status update, are you? Don’t worry, I’ll still explain everything you need to know about this book 😛

Ever since the first chapter, I was enchanted by its prose. It was beautiful, lyrical, but not overdone. Almost everything still makes sense, but I admit there are some sentences that don’t, like this one. “He tasted like midnight and wind, and shades of rich brown and light blue.” It sounds pretty but how exactly do midnight and color taste like? 😂 anyway, it’s still very enjoyable I just need to mention it 😛

The plot was smart and unique. I absolutely love the magical vibe and its unique premise. Some parts were predictable while some others were truly unexpected. However, I felt like there were too many twists toward the end of the book to the point where they lost their shocking value. The ending also felt too convenient for me. Considering most of the scenes were brutal, it was a bit unrealistic for the ending to be neatly wrapped like that.

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I actually love the characters. Lately I got irritated easily by female narrators so it’s been a while since I truly loved a female protagonist. Scarlett’s personality just… spoke to my soul. She thinks too much and always acts too cautiously. I’m also a big sister so I know how it feels to want to take care of younger sibling while also being mad at them. I lvoe the dynamic between Scarlett and her sister, Donatella. Tella is so much more carefree and vibrant. She’s a risk taker and she drags Scarlett along with her. But on top of it all, they all love each other fiercely.

I had mixed feeling for Julian. I admit, I think I’m getting too old for nice guy trying to act like a jerk and that’s exactly how Julian acted in the first few chapters of the book. He was cold and pretended like he didn’t care and I was like, “can we please drop this jerk act already?” But then I warmed up to him and I started to actually like and care about him. His relationship with Scarlett was a bit insta lovey but I shipped them both so hard. They’re so sweet ♥

However, I hateeee a lot of their decisions!! Really. They make stupid, selfish decisions for each other all the time. I honestly didn’t appreciate Tella making decision for both her and Scarlett, especially one so big like that. People might think they know the best for other people but it’s not always true. But overall, all the three of them are still lovable protagonists that I couldn’t help but root for.

We also have Governor Dragna, Scarlett and Tella’s ruthless father. I mentioned in the trigger warning that this book contains some abuse. Well, the girls’ father was downright abusive. He might say that he has reasons behind it but the truth is, he’s just a cruel and abusive person. Period.

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ALL IN ALL, Caraval was a very enchanting read that will sweep you away with its magical vibe and lyrical writing. The characters, though not always make the smart decision, are all so relatable and you won’t be able to do anything but root for them. Highly recommended ♥



Book Title : Caraval (Caraval #1)
Author : Stephanie Garber
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton (January 31, 2017)

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.


Have you read Caraval by Stephanie Garber? What do you think about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts ♥

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29 thoughts on “Review: Caraval // Strange, Magical, and Enchanting

  1. I posted my review for Caraval yesterday! Spoiler Alert: I absolutely adored it! I loved the characters (Julian is everything!!) and the story was so beautiful too. The ending was amazing and frustrating at the same time because on one hand we finally got all the answers but on the other hand it set us up for a whole new story. I don’t think the second book will be anything like Caraval because what would be the point of it? We got to experience Caraval in all its glory already… In any case, I’m really looking forward to the second book!

    Nihaad | Read & Seek

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yayyyy I’m glad you loved it too! I’ve been reading mixed reviews lately ahaha I did think the ending was a bit too convenient though 😂 but yeahhh I can’t wait to see what Stephanie Garber has in store for us in book 2 hahaha whatever it is I hope it will be just as good 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I’m glad to see you loved this one as much as I did! Julian also grew on me. 😂 I loved the relationship between Scarlett and Tella; it was so sweet. I can’t wait for the sequel! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just like you, I was worried going into this book too. Caraval had been getting SO much hype leading up to it’s release, I was so worried I wouldn’t enjoy it. But oh did I enjoy it! I can’t wait to see where Stephanie Garber takes the story in the second book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know right! Going into a hyped book is dreadful hahaha I’m glad you love it and think it lived up to the hype, because I know a lot of people didn’t 😂 me too, this is already good as a debut novel so I can’t wait to see how she’s going to improve in the second book ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re actually one of the few people who’s reviewed this book positively (on WordPress) – based on the blogs I follow. I’ve heard great things about it on GoodReads and Booktube, but I don’t know why but I’ve been reading so many negative reviews of it. So your review was different, and really good!

    I’m very excited for the book, though of course every hyped book freaks me out. I’m glad you liked the writing, personally I don’t think I’ll be able to put up with it for an entire book, but we’ll see how I feel when I finally get around to it. Your review has actually renewed my enthusiasm to pick this up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Really? I’ve seen A LOT of rave reviews both on goodreads and the blog especially when the ARC first came out haha that’s why I was wary it wouldn’t live up to my expectation😂 I hope you actually enjoy it, but just keep in mind to lower your expectation. I always do it with hyped books so I don’t get too upset if they don’t live up to my expectation hahaha 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so glad you enjoyed this! I think I ended up giving it 3.5 stars. I really loved the world and the magical setting but the characters just didn’t do it for me, I didn’t really feel anything special for any of them. If I had to pick I’d say Julian was the best but overall, they didn’t leave much of an impression. I still enjoyed it though, I was just in it for the world! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews too, but I think it’s mostly because of the hype that people feel sooo let down when they don’t enjoy it as much as they hoped hehe after all this is a debut so some flaws here and there are understandable 😛 I hope you enjoy it though!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love reading other’s thoughts on books I’ve read. Caraval seems to have been such a sparkling success with almost everyone who has read it…and I was the odd man out who went, “Dang, I wish I hadn’t wasted money on this thing.” The girl’s selfish thoughtlessness knew no bounds and while I often enjoy more lyrical writing I thought it was over the top in Caraval to the point of not making sense at times. When I wrote my review I still tried to give it a positive spin because I realized that it was my personal taste bringing it down for me but that was a daunting task.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review, Puput! I actually wasn’t a fan of this one – I enjoyed it (3.5 stars) but I didn’t love it as much as I expected to, and I think it also has to do with what you said about the characters making really stupid decisions, haha. I loooove the prose as well, but I’ve always vibed better with magic systems that are more… logical and less whimsical, so this one didn’t sit too well with me.

    I’m glad you love it, though, and at least the book is super pretty! I think this is the first I’ve seen of that version’s paperback. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Reg! Indeed hahaha they make a lot of weird decisions that I do not support at all, but I still adore them, sort of 😂😂 nahh lately I’ve been in love with something more whimsical, so I love this one a lot hahaha me too! All I saw is the US paperback or the UK hardback which is totally gorgeous ❤


  8. Great review. I actually totally get your complaint about the ending as that was my complaint too. I never mentioned it in my review because it felt like it was revealing too much it did make me roll my eyes when it was all ‘it’s not real’ about it. I quite liked the twists that kept building throughout the book, though. It kept me on my toes and meant that i never actually figured things out. I like to be surprised. Maybe a twist less could have happened but it worked for me. I’m intrigued what the next book is going to be like, fingers crossed it’s just as interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Becky! 😀 I knooow I was hoping things turned a bit wrong hahaha but yeahhh it keeps me guessing haha me too! And if a debut is already this good I’m sure the sequel will be even better. If only it doesn’t fall to the second book syndrome hahaha 😂


  9. So glad you enjoyed this one, Puput 😀 I agree that it definitely wasn’t perfect but I was so swept away in the world and magic it was hard to rate it anything less than perfect. I really loved Scarlet as a character too because I was able to relate. I saw people complain about how uninterested she was in in Caraval and I was like “…..her sister is missing?” of course she’s gonna be stressed out and irrational. It makes me wonder if people who didn’t get her don’t have younger siblings maybe? Brilliant review like always ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Lauren! 😀 I knoooow it’s clearly not flawless but for a debut it’s understandable, I guess hahaha same! I can’t even be present in a conversation if I have more pressing things on my mind so I get why Scarlett was too preoccupied with finding Tella, even if it was part of the game. Thank you 😀


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