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Caraval~A book Review by Arabella K. Federico

Welcome to Caraval!
Here you will get my subjective book review on this very popular novel!

But remember, it's only a game.

Book review of Caraval

Summary of Caraval

Scarlett Dragna  is a careful, small island girl who’s dreamed of nothing more than marrying a nice man who can take care of her and her sister, Tella. To take them both away from their abusive father, and to finally experience the magic of Caraval. Wouldn’t ya know it, Scarlett’s dreams of attending Caraval are about to come true! She is soon to be married off to a rich Duke, and despite never meeting the man other than a few exchanged letters, Scarlett is positive this is the one she’s been waiting for. And also the only way out of their abusive and hostile life with their tyrant father. But what could make Scarlett happier? Well, a personal invitation to the one and only Caraval-a magical once a year immersive performance-where you can either watch or better yet, you can play.

Admit One-To Be Used Once, to Gain Entrance into Caraval


 One thing about Caraval though, is you must have an invitation to attend. Therefore, after years of writing to the creator and mastermind of Caraval, the mysterious and identity-unknown man named “Legend”, Scarlett has been bestowed three beautiful golden tickets to Caraval. Her literal ticket off the island that has kept her captive in more ways than one. Should Scarlett go, risking the very wrath of her father so close to her wedding day for the chance to live her life long dream of attending Caraval? Risk it all for the grand prize of One Magical Wish? Or, will her persistent and paralyzing fears prevent her from taking flight and experiencing the true wonders of Caraval? 

Scarlett from Caraval

Overview of Caraval

 How do I feel about Caraval? Well…It’s pure magic. I’m a total sucker for the: “Don’t get sucked in, you know it isn’t real!” type deal, despite myself totally getting sucked in like a spider in a vacuum and being completely ready to take that ride all the way to end of the proverbial finale (pun completed intended!). That all being said, it’s a great book with a wonderful story. It has romance, it has mystery, it has suspense, and as a reader I am putty in Garber’s glorious hands. I fell for it all, hook line and sinker. And I don’t even care that I did! It was so great! This book should be a movie because the visuals alone would be at like Avatar-level spectacular. There is so much that would be done to this glorious world that I can see it being a huge cinematic hit. And I really want Scarlett’s dress, which, magically changes shape, color, and texture based off her mood and a few other factors. Must read on to find out who gives Scarlett her glorious fashion throughout her time at Caraval.
Dante's rose-hand-tattoo from the book Caraval


  • I know it’s a YA novel, so that is probably the reason for this, but I really did wish there was just a bit more romance in this one. Now, that being said there IS romance here-and the amount that is in the book is good, I just wanted mooooorrree! I can’t help it! Does that make me a pervert? And I don’t even necessarily mean sexual contact-romance, which you rarely ever get in YA anyway. I just wanted more lovey-dovey stuff. 
  • Next, there are a few little areas where there is too much description and the details given tend to go on a little too long. For example, when clothing is being descried or what the inside of a certain area looks like, etc. This is minimal though, and does add to the great visualizations so it’s hard to dog too much on this. It doesn’t muddy down or slow the pacing down or anything like that. 
A photo of Scarlett in the book Caraval


  • Great pacing! It really doesn’t lag at any point. Like I mentioned before, a few times there’s too much description here and there but really that’s the only point where the pacing even remotely slows and its for like, a paragraph! If you like a page turner, well…go get the book. 


  • The stakes! They really do get raised, even though the entire thing is a game (or is it?). They keep getting up-ed and up-ed, and baby that’s damn good storytelling right there!


  • The mystery! The puzzle! This! I love a good mystery in books and just Legend himself. Who he is and how he gets all these abilities to do what he does is so damn intriguing and wonderful. Garber gives you just enough to keep you hooked on who this man is, but keeps you wanting to find out more and more about who is he. And that’s just Legend! The game is also full of the same great, juicy mystery that I’m just a total jellybean over! 

Did I Mention World-Building? It’s Just…It’s So Good. So Good.

  • Scarlett has pure, clear, intended motivation from beginning to end. Where a lot of books fall flat is that their main characters lacks a clear, obvious, and personal motivation; a rookie mistake that Garber defiantly doesn’t make in this book. You know exactly what Scarlett wants, why she wants it, and why she’s willing to risk everything to get it. As a reader and a writer, if a book doesn’t have this right away, I’m hesitant to give it such a glorious review.


  • Very satisfying ending. Didn’t see it coming at all, and felt that it did a great job and made me happy. I didn’t feel duped or cheated out of that great ending we all crave! (And waited reading the entire dang book for!) So I loved the ending and how it set up to book 2! 


  • A wonderfully planned out character arc. Scarlett really grows at the end of this story, and I just love a fellow young woman coming into their own and growing to a point where she can challenge her misbeliefs about the world and come out the other end a better person. 
A cartoon depiction of a black top hat


  “Yesterday she’d seen incredible things. but the entire time she’d been controlled by fear. She reminded herself her father wasn’t there. And if she were only going to stay for one night, she would regret it later if she spent the entire time too frightened to enjoy anything.”~Stephanie Garber~Caraval 
  Julian uttered several colorful curses. “Tell me they didn’t take a day of your life.” 
  “No…” She fought to stay standing. “They took two days.”~Stephanie Garber~Caraval 

Arabella’s Final Thoughts on Caraval:

 Read it. Just do it! It’s so good. It made me happy and it’s just wonderful storytelling. As an inspiring author myself, I truly inspire to write stories like Caraval. You come around books once in awhile that truly blow you away, and this was one of those books. Caraval was glorious and beautifully done and makes me want to create such a wonderful story that I can ignite that type of awe in others that she has lit inside of me. That is truly a beautiful accomplishment on its own. Cheers girl! 
Watch out for Stephanie Garber’s second book in this series, “Legendary”, which I will be reviewing next!! 

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