Caraval, Stephanie Garber: Review

I am no stranger to a fantasy novel, in fact I would go as far as saying that its my go to genre. So, its no surprising that Caraval found its way onto my ‘to be read’ pile. And it didn’t stay there long. Once I picked this book up I found it hard to put down and was racing through the chapters.

“It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .”

The beginning of the novel I found particularly enticing as Stephanie Garber is a true mastermind in backstory. I instantly knew the main characters; Scarlett and Tella, and their personalities came through brightly. Scarlett was a character that I found much more appealing and someone I could root for. Whereas Tella was a little lacklustre for my personal taste and a character I found even annoying at times. However, it was Scarlett that took centre focus.

The action really begins when Scarlett arrives at Caraval; a spectacular treasure hunt style performance where the winner is granted a wish. This is where the questions really begin. Where’s Tella? Who’s a player? and most importantly is it real? The game no longer felt like a game, especially with her sister missing, and I was utterly invested. This is what I really liked about the novel. I enjoyed the suspense and mystery the game gave me, especially when it led to the darker aspects that I really wasn’t expecting. The seedy underground tunnels, the tortured past of experienced players and the reveal of a murder really made this novel stand out.

The ending to this book, although it was a real twist disappointed me. I was interested in the art of trickery that the plot presented and the understated magic than ran through it. I wanted more of a presence from the enigmatic Legend who created Caraval.

Overall however, this book was a true fantastical YA hit. It teased me with a budding romance, it warmed me with a sisterly relationship and it captured me with its magic. I would definitely recommend Garber’s Caraval, especially to those that perhaps wouldn’t pick it up because of its fantasy elements. This book is first and foremost a mystery and it is absolutely compelling.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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