Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

A legendary competition. A mesmerizing romance. An unbreakable bond between two sisters.

How did I feel?

Caraval was dark starry nights and warm cinnamon breezes. It was a book that transported me to a beautifully built world and kept me there, entirely entertained and in awe. I’m amazed that it took me this long to read it. Stephanie Garber has magic at her fingertips, painting a world full of mystique, danger, and wonder. A completely amazing adventure filled with strong sibling bonds, risks, doubts and love. I was left with wanderlust by the end of it.

What did I like?

This book was one that I did not want to put down. I wanted to keep reading it into the late hours of the night.

Our main character Scarlett has dreamed of going to Caraval for as long as she has remembered. Every year she has written letters to the grand-master of this magical event, Legend, but has never received and answer. And as Scarlett and her sister Donatella grow under their abusive father’s eye, she soon begins to let go of her dreams of seeing Caraval and beings to dream of how she can keep her sister and herself save. An arranged marriage that their cruel father has negotiated might be Scarlett’s only chance at protecting herself and her sister….but Fate has other plans when after years of reaching out, the Master of Caraval finally writes back with an invitation.

There were so many things I enjoyed about this story but I don’t want to give away any major spoilers. Scarlett and Donatella’s relationship hit me right in the heart. As an older sister, I related to Scarlett and her need to keep Donatella safe. Another thing that I enjoyed was Scarlett’s growth throughout the game. She goes from being someone who quickly chooses the safe option to being someone who is more willing to take more risks. Her character does not go through a drastic change, she still very much is cautious but we get to see how she is slowly changing. It makes her character more real and relatable.

The idea of the Caraval was another thing that I extremely enjoyed. I’ve always wanted to go to a Caraval in real life but now that I read this book, I don’t think a real one will hold as much allure.

What did I not like?

There were very few things that I scrunched my nose at while reading the book. I felt like there could’ve been better moments between Scarlett and the love interest. There were some nice warm moments but they happened at a time that didnt make sense. Or were kind of put in places where they didn’t feel organic.

The ending also felt a little rushed. However, none of these things took away from the story as a whole. Maybe it was all because it was setting the stage for the next book?

Overall thoughts:

Caraval was a delightful read. It definitely became a favorite and a book that I see myself reading again as a comfort book. It gets a 4/5 stars from me!

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