ARC Review: Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Synopsis: caraval cover.jpg

Scarlett and Tella have never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of a Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure.

When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations 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 an elaborate performance. But she quickly becomes entangled 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.

I received a free proof copy of this book courtesy of Chapter 5 Books in exchange for an honest review. 


mind blown2.gif

I mean, I knew I was holding something special in my hands even based on the red sprayed edges that the UK copy of the proof has – but I did not expect just how good the story within the pretty pages would be.

The tagline “Remember it’s only a game” plays such a huge part whilst reading – the strong minded and resilient protagonist turns out to be wonderfully unreliable as she’s enveloped in the mystical game of Caraval. At points,  I was really struggling to see what was truth and what was a concept created by Master Legend in order to engross his guests despite having that constant reminder branded on the covers of the book.

The reading experience was almost magical.

I absolutely loved the relationships in this story – both romantic and not. Sisterhood played such a vital role and truly drove the plot of the novel. Despite everything they had been through (please mind a mild trigger warning for parent-child abuse for those easily affected by such matters – albeit it is never very graphic just present within the novel), their bond was unmistakably strong and definitely only grew through the novel as Scarlett strived to find Tella.

When it comes to romance, this was a great example of how a fantasy romance should be written; none of this insta-love, love triangle malarkey that we so often see in YA Fiction. Just subtle, slow burn romance which added to the story without completely overpowering all the other concepts within it.

Also, may we just talk about the plot twists? Can we? Because there were SO MANY. All of which I really could not even begin to predict. Once I thought I could predict something…. it turned out I was grossly mistaken. This book was one huge enigma to me, and I absolutely loved that!

The plot itself was so wonderfully dark and disturbing at points, and also as previously mentioned – psychologically affecting. The settings of this novel were so well described I could picture everything with great clarity. I honestly commend  Garber for this, and can definitely say that she truly has a gift for creating a sense of mystery using her plot and setting, and building it right up until the end. And unlike some authors’ attempts, the ending actually delivered. Questions were answered, but enough were left to make me anticipate the next book with great excitement.

I will not say much more about this book, for I think that the effect of it is spoiled the more you know about it – it’s one of those books where the less you know the better the reading experience will be. One that leaves you wishing that there was a way to forget things about the books you had read just to be able to relive them anew.

I can just say that you should definitely read this masterpiece and get lost in the world of Caraval, and I can only hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

My Rating: 4.9 if not 5/5 Stars