Book Review: Caraval (Caraval, #1) – Stephanie Garber


By: Stephanie Garber
Published: January 31, 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 402
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: ★½

Amazon | Book Depository

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.

My Thoughts

Having heard everyone and their mothers go on about how amazing this book was for ages, Caraval became one of my most anticipated releases for 2017. I honestly thought it would be one of my favourite books of the year. Unfortunately, within the first 20 pages I realized how very wrong I was.

In a nutshell, Caraval was about a girl, Scarlett, whose sister was kidnapped by a man who runs the travelling show called Caraval . The premise of that year’s game was to find Scarlett’s sister, Donatella. So, in order to save her sister, Scarlett had to beat all of the other players and win the game.

Caraval had the potential to be pretty great – the world was fascinating and the plot was relatively interesting. but the writing made me want to claw out my eyeballs. I wish I’d gotten the eBook solely for the purpose of being able to check how often certain phrases or adjectives were repeated; I’ve never heard so many things described as being “plum” in my entire life. Also, everything was described in terms of colour. I don’t just mean objects, but feelings, people, actions…the entire book was an ode to synesthesia. And these colours weren’t your typical reds, blues, and greens, even the colours had adjectives – every red was ruby and every green was either emerald or jade.

Here are some of my favourite lines and phrases from the book:

sage-shaded colours of suspicion”

smoky ginger prickle of discomfort”

“She was disappointed. It came in cool shades of forget-me-not blue”

“Sour shades of yellow-green made her stomach roil with trepidation.”

“hemlock-green panic”

Then there was the main character, Scarlett. (Yes, even the main character’s name was a colour). She was your typical, good girl YA protagonist; she was scandalized at the sight of her own bare shoulders, yet still spent 99% of the book drooling over a guy’s “perfect rows of golden-brown muscle.” She was so whiny and melodramatic, I constantly wanted to throttle her.

As I said before, the book had the potential to be quite interesting. However, I had such a difficult time suffering through the ridiculous writing and putting up with such an annoying main character, that I couldn’t really take notice of any of the book’s more positive attributes.

My Rating



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