Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Book Review)

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Page Count
: 402

When Caraval was released last year, I remember it being all the hype. People compared it to the Night Circus, which is one of my most favourite books in the world and therefore set standards very high. I bought one of the UK mystery hardcover editions very early on, but then soon realised that the hype was just too much and there was no way I could possibly enjoy it as much as I might have if I hadn’t heard a thing about it before. So, I waited and let some time pass to allow my brain to forget some of the things it had learned and I think that was a good call.

First of all, Caraval still wasn’t close to the Night Circus. Magic was there and it might have still been very intricate, but I feel like the focus of the story was less on enchanting the readers, but more on creating drama and putting all the characters in constant peril. As a whole, I still very much enjoyed the book. The story in itself was absolutely fascinating, but my issue was more along the lines of the characters.

Scarlett and I have a difficult relationship. I appreciate her undying devotion to her sister. I like that she has principals she is unwilling to relent on, but some of her behaviour just didn’t add up. Her past is tragic and I very much understand her mistrust in others after the abuse she has suffered from her father. However, she kept making the most naive decisions and wasn’t cautious with her trust at all. After a while, I was just constantly frustrated with her choices and and the people and things she chose to believe in or not believe in for that matter. Also, she constantly criticised her sister,Β Tella,Β for being impulsive, when literally none of her actions were thoroughly thought through. Speaking of Tella, she didn’t have the benefit of being present much in the story, but despite her overall motive of wanting to save Scarlett from a life in misery, she just stillΒ seemed utterly selfish to me.

I hear that the second book, Legendary, has Tella as a main character and that it is supposedly better than Caraval. I am definitely curious about how the story continues in the sequel, because Caraval was full of wonderful twists and turns and revelations. I call bullshit on anyone who claims to have predicted everything that happened in that book, because I am usually very good at spotting those kind of things and there was no way I could have guessed all of those twists.

In the sequel, I hope that we get to go a little bit more into detail on how Caraval actually works and that we get to find out more about Legend. I like a mysterious villain who may not be a villain at all.


Fazit: 4/5 stars! Liked the story more than the characters, if that makes any sense.

Have you been enchanted by Caraval? Is it a book you’d be interested in? Let’s chat!

36 thoughts on “Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Book Review)

  1. I’m glad you still enjoyed the book- even though, yeah, it really wasn’t the Night Circus (it’s one of the few books I’ve read in the middle of the hype and that comparison grated for me) I really wasn’t keen on the characters either- I was hoping for a really great sisterly relationship and it just… wasn’t there. I think it had loads of cool twists- and I didn’t see them coming- I didn’t like the last twist with Tella and that was kind of the last straw for me. Anyway, I’m glad you liked it! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah, the sisterly bond was portrayed very one-sided and I never came to terms with Tella’s behaviour and how she was all casual when making that last decision. Like … how the fuck could she do that to Scarlett??? I may have spoiled myself by reading the last page before ending the book, so I sort of imagined what would be ahead, but I still wasn’t okay with it. I did like how really nothing was what it seemed though and I wonder what will happen next.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t like Caraval at all. The characters are boring stereotypes and the plot is predictable (even though it is so magical…). I don’t really understand the hype. It’s just not my cup of tea. πŸ™‚


  3. I almost bought this at the last book fair I went to, but I chose not to… I’m not sure if I’m very interested in it just yet, y’know? I still haven’t read The Night Circus, but I’ll hopefully do it soon! I finally have a copy of it!! (and it’s the beautiful vintage one!)
    Great review ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. YAY, I’m so happy you enjoyed Caraval! ❀
    I actually understand what you mean, looking back on my reading experience, I loved the story more than the characters as well! I guess at times, I was a bit disconnected with them all, but mostly I enjoyed reading from Scarlett's POV.
    I'm really curious about Legendary, I haven't read any reviews on it so far because I want to keep myself in the dark.
    Lovely review! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review for this book Kat, and I’m really glad you enjoyed it as well (sounds like you did the right thing, waiting a little for the hype to die down before picking it up). One of the things that first drew me to Caraval was the comparisons being made to The Night Circus but I knew even before I started it wouldn’t be quite the same (I really don’t think there’s anything that can live up to The Night Circus let’s be honest) but I still loved it and I can’t wait for the second book now, especially after hearing people say it’s even better. πŸ˜€
    I didn’t see all the twists coming at the end either, in fact even now over a year after I’ve finished Caraval I still can’t wrap my head around everything that happened!
    Again great review. πŸ™‚ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The hype definitely got too much to handle with this book, especially with the comparison to the Night Circus aka one of my favourites. I’m glad that you enjoyed it overall though, even if Scarlett can be a frustrating character. I might give this book a chance, but there’s no guarantee.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I still wouldn’t necessarily make that one a priority anyway. The characters are quite annoying even if the story makes up for it a bit. But it gets NOWHERE near the Night Circus. People comparing it to that book will forever be a disappointment.


  7. I’m glad you enjoyed the book and, in that very case of a book being REALLY hyped, waiting is often the best solution. (This is the excuse I give for not having read Children of Blood and Bone haha).
    I agree that the concept was very interesting and I liked the twists and turns, but yeah, like you I wasn’t entirely on board with the main character, she annoyed me, at times :/ I’m intrigued to see what happens in the next book and to know the sister more, though, but I’m not that eager to read it either haha.
    Lovely review! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great Review! I just wrote a review for Caraval and had similar criticisms. Scarlett certainly won’t go down in history as anyone’s favorite protagonist it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.