Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Five Word Summary

Unique, enigmatic, alluring, scenic, poignant


  • Lovers of YA fantasy
  • Lovers of mystery stories who don’t mind fantasy.
  • Lovers of sweet romance.



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.

My Thoughts

While it took me a minute to get into this, once I did, I was as caught up in it as the players of Caraval! The story is different and thoroughly immersive. It catches you with its mystery and the reader is right there with Tella trying to solve the twists and turns. It kept me guessing right to the end, which also made it a page turner. It is not often a book surprises me, but Caraval managed to do just that.

The author, Stephanie Garber, wrote the magical, but creepy carnival atmosphere very well, bringing it to life so it sang in my imagination. Additionally, each character was rich, and you literally didn’t know who to trust.

Caraval explores family relationships, both those that bind and those that destroy. We share in the agony of two daughters who live in fear of their father and we revel in the love the sisters have for each other. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. This is combined with a delightful, sweet romance that burns at just the right brightness for the story.

I’m a bit late in catching up with this book, but for anyone who hasn’t read Caraval, I’d highly recommend you give it a go. I’ve added the next two books in the trilogy to my To Be Read list. So many books—so little time!

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