Guest Review of Caraval

Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .



Caraval Review

By: Lexi Lindale


Do you remember that magical feeling that came whenever the carnival rolled into town? The nights were longer, the air was crisp with fall. Magic seemed to illuminate every shadow, every moment. You couldn’t wait to walk into the tents and find things that didn’t exist in the real world. The excitement, the anticipation, the magic of it all made your heart soar.

That’s exactly how it feels reading Stephanie Gerber’s debut novel Caraval.

The story is about sisters. Donatella, Tella for short, and Scarlett. They’ve grown up on the Isle of Trisda with only their father. Their mother left when they were little and their father turned into an overbearing abusive man. So the sisters only have each other.

Scarlett lives off the stories their grandmother used to tell them about the magical traveling Caraval. She’s dreamed of going ever since she was a child. She wrote letters every year to the game master. And the year she is to be married off to a count, a man she has never met, Legend finally answers her pleas.

Scarlett has grown up and changed in the years it took for Legend to finally answer her. She doesn’t want to go at first. She believes the only way to save her sister from her father is to marry. She’s never met her fiancée but she truly believes she’s in love with him. So Tella enlists the help of a sailor named Julian and they kidnap Scarlett and take her to the island of dreams.

Once Scarlett and Julian have gotten to the island they realize that the prize of winning Caraval is a wish, but finding Tella is now the game. Scarlett gets thrust into this world of make believe, this world that will do whatever it has to do to trick her into believing it is more than a game. All the while her heart is trying to deny her attraction to Julian, her partner and only saving grace on this foreign land.

The game is spellbinding and there is never a moment where you don’t believe you aren’t involved. Scarlett and Julian work together flawlessly and awkwardly as most pairs do.

But the beauty in this story, the heart of it all, is the love between both sisters. Because while everyone else sees their own desires, focus on their own pleasure during the game, Scarlett is determined to find her sister. As always she’s determined to keep her safe, even if that means pushing Julian away.

What makes this story so beautiful isn’t just the magical writing and the ease in which Stephanie goes from one chapter to the next. It is the bond, the loyalty, the belief these two sisters share. Its refreshing to see something so real, two sisters yearning to leave the nest together. Two sisters who want nothing more than freedom and happiness, and the chance to experience it all together.

I won’t spoil the ending or any major twists (there are so many turns!) but I will say you truly cannot guess how this book will end. This comes from a girl who reads the last page first. I did not see the end coming and I am truly heartbroken I have to wait for the second one longer than everyone else.

But I will tell you that I’ve never read any book as beautiful, as hauntingly magical as Caraval. I cannot wait to see what else Stephanie Garber writes because she has been added to my favorite author list.


Caraval will leave you spell bound, it will leave you breathless. But mostly it will leave you wanting more.

To find out more, visit the author’s website here.

To purchase your own copy of Caraval visit your local bookstore today!

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