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Caraval (Caraval Series #1)

Caraval (Caraval Series #1)

4.8 16
by Stephanie Garber

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The instant New York Times bestseller!

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval—Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of


The instant New York Times bestseller!

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval—Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Entertainment Weekly Must List
“Spellbinding.” US Weekly
“Magnificent.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“I lost myself in this world.” —Sabaa Tahir, author of An Ember in the Ashes
“Beautifully written.” —Renée Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn
“Shimmers with magic.” —Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner’s Curse
“Darkly enchanting.” —Kiersten White, author of And I Darken
“Decadent.” —Roshani Chokshi, author of The Star-Touched Queen
“Like stepping into a living dream.” —Stacey Lee, author of Outrun the Moon
“Destined to capture imaginations.”Kirkus Reviews
Ideal for fans of The Night Circus, Stardust, and The Hunger Games.SLJ

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/17/2016
At the start of Garber’s magnificent debut novel, the mysterious Master Legend invites sisters Scarlett and Donatella Dragna to attend Caraval—a magical multiday event that is part spectacle, part treasure hunt. Although their tyrannical father has threatened death if they leave home without his permission, Tella strikes a deal with a roguish sailor named Julian for transport to Legend’s private island—a plan that essentially involves kidnapping the conflicted Scarlett, who is weeks away from marrying a man she’s never met. Upon arrival, Tella is taken, and it’s revealed that she is the subject of this year’s hunt. Scarlett and Julian join forces to find her, but in a game in which secrets are currency and appearances deceive, Scarlett has no way of knowing whether she’s a Caraval player or Master Legend’s pawn. Intriguing characters, an imaginative setting, and evocative writing combine to create a spellbinding tale of love, loss, sacrifice, and hope. While the search for Tella drives the narrative, Scarlett’s quest for self-empowerment is equally captivating. Scarlett and Julian’s chemistry intoxicates, and Garber’s tantalizing conclusion will leave readers hungry for a sequel. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jenny Bent, Bent Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Instant New York Times Bestseller
#1 IndieNext Pick
Entertainment Weekly’s Must List
An IndieBound Bestseller
A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
An iBooks Best Book of the Month

Spellbinding.” —US Weekly

“A magnificent debut . . . a spellbinding tale of love, loss, sacrifice, and hope.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This twisty, terrifically fun page-turner is ideal for fans of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, Neil Gaiman's Stardust, and fantasy novels where relationships between sisters drive the plot, such as The Hunger Games. VERDICT: A must-have fantasy debut for high school collections." —School Library Journal

Caraval sweeps you into a treacherous and romantic world that takes center stage in this story of two sisters and their longing for more.” —Justine

“A spellbinding tale of sisterhood, love and betrayal. I lost myself in this dangerous, enchanting world—and never wanted to come out.” —Sabaa Tahir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember In the Ashes and A Torch in the Night

“Enchanting and mysterious, Stephanie Garber's Caraval is a story rich with sumptuous detail, beautifully written.” —Renée Ahdieh, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn

Caraval shimmers with magic. This is an inventive, delightful tale with several aces up its sleeve." —Marie Rutkoski, New York Times bestselling author of the Winner's Trilogy

“In a book where nothing is at it appears, one thing is certain: Caraval is the darkly enchanting adventure you’ve been looking for!” —Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of And I Darken and Paranormalcy

“A decadent and enchanting tale. Caraval will sink its teeth into you, and you will not want to leave.” —Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

“A tale of sisterly devotion painted in colors of cerise and shimmering gold. If you ever wondered how it would feel to step into a living dream, here's your ticket.” —Stacey Lee, critically acclaimed author of Outrun the Moon

"Stephanie Garber doesn't just dazzle—she makes me believe.” —Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane

Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets. Immersive and engaging . . . destined to capture imaginations.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An enchanting mix of mystery, romance, and magic, this immerses readers in its gorgeous setting with lush prose. The setting is a captivating blend of beauty and danger . . . the chemistry between Scarlett and Julian is intoxicating. Readers will want a return ticket to this one.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Rich, vivid scene-setting and descriptions make for entertaining reading . . . a colorful, imaginative fantasy with some steamy romance for good measure.” —ALA Booklist

Library Journal
In this YA fantasy debut, Scarlett, who lives on a small island with her sister and icily domineering father, receives an invitation to Caraval, a fabled audience-participation performance taking place once a year. It's shortly before her arranged marriage, but Scarlett sneaks away to attend. A likely crossover title pitched as having a Night Circus-like atmosphere; with sales to 25 territories and preempted by Twentieth Century Fox.
Kirkus Reviews
Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the enchanted circus trope. Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome golden-brown sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarletts arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets. Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Scarlett and her sister, Donatella, have been raised on a remote island by a demanding and cruel father. Scarlett is about to be married to a man she's never met, and though her long-held dream of receiving an invitation to Caraval, the once-a-year, fantastical, immersive performance, has come true, she believes attending would jeopardize her wedding and destroy her sole chance to get herself and Tella away from their father. When her sister teams up with a sailor to trick Scarlett onto a ship and take her anyway, the heroine plans to stay for a night or two, then return home for her wedding. But then Tella is kidnapped by Legend, Caraval's mysterious mastermind, and the protagonist learns that she can get her sister back only if she plays Legend's game for five nights—and wins. It won't be easy, though. Nothing (and no one) at Caraval is what it seems: time speeds up, clothing morphs according to its own agenda, and players may be called on to pay for things with their deepest fears or two days of their lives. Without knowing whom she can trust, including her own reason and senses, Scarlett must work out where her sister is and how to save her. This twisty, terrifically fun page-turner is ideal for fans of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, Neil Gaiman's Stardust, and fantasy novels where relationships between sisters drive the plot, such as "The Hunger Games" or Rosamund Hodge's Cruel Beauty. VERDICT A must-have fantasy debut for high school collections.—Stephanie Klose, School Library Journal

Product Details

Flatiron Books
Publication date:
Caraval Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Stephanie Garber

Flatiron Books

Copyright © 2017 Stephanie Garber
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-09527-5


It took seven years to get the letter right.

Year 50, Elantine Dynasty

Dear Mister Caraval Master,

My name is Scarlett, but I'm writing this letter for my sister, Donatella. It's going to be her birthday soon and she would very much like to see you and your amazing Caraval players. Her birthday is the 37th day of the Growing Season and it would be the most wonderfulest birthday ever if you came.

Most hopefully, Scarlett, from the Conquered Isle of Trisda

Year 51, Elantine Dynasty

Dear Mister Caraval Master,

It's Scarlett again. Did you get my last letter? This year my sister says she's too old to celebrate birthdays, but I think she's just upset you never came to Trisda. This Growing Season she'll be ten and I'll be eleven. She won't admit it but she'd still very much like to see you and your wondrous Caraval players.

Most hopefully, Scarlett, from the Conquered Isle of Trisda

Year 52, Elantine Dynasty

Dear Caraval Master Legend,

I'm sorry I got your name wrong in those other letters. I hope that's not why you haven't come to Trisda. My little sister's birthday wasn't the only reason I've wanted you to bring your amazing Caraval players here, I'd love to see them too.

Sorry this letter is short, my father will be angry if he catches me writing to you.

Most hopefully, Scarlett, from the Conquered Isle of Trisda

Year 52, Elantine Dynasty

Dear Caraval Master Legend,

I just heard the news and I wanted to send my condolences. Even though you still haven't come to Trisda or responded to any of my letters, I know you're not a murderer. I was very sorry to hear you won't be traveling for a while.

Most kindly, Scarlett, from the Conquered Isle of Trisda

Year 55, Elantine Dynasty

Dear Master Legend,

Do you remember me, Scarlett, from the Conquered Isle of Trisda? I know it's been a few years since I wrote. I heard you and your players have started performing again. My sister told me you never visit the same place twice, but a lot has changed since you visited here fifty years ago, and I truly don't believe anyone would like to see one of your performances more than I would.

Most hopefully, Scarlett

Year 56, Elantine Dynasty

Dear Master Legend,

I heard you visited the capital of the Southern Empire last year and changed the color of the sky. Is that true? I actually tried attending with my sister, but we're not supposed to leave Trisda. Sometimes I believe I'll never go farther than the Conquered Isles. I suppose that's why I've wanted you and your players to come here so badly. It's probably futile to ask again, but I do hope you'll consider coming.

Most hopefully, Scarlett, from the Conquered Isle of Trisda

Year 57, Elantine Dynasty

Dear Master Legend,

This will be my final letter. I'm going to be married soon. So it's probably best you and your players don't come to Trisda this year.

Scarlett Dragna

Year 57, Elantine Dynasty

Dear Scarlett Dragna, from the Conquered Isle of Trisda —

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. I am sorry I cannot bring my players to Trisda. We're not traveling this year. Our next performance is by invitation only, but I would look forward to meeting you and your fiancé if you could find a way to leave your isle and join us.

Please accept the enclosed as a gift.

From the pen of Caraval Master Legend


Scarlett's feelings came in colors even brighter than usual. The urgent red of burning coals. The eager green of new grass buds. The frenzied yellow of a flapping bird's feathers.

He'd finally written back.

She read the letter again. Then again. And again. Her eyes took in each sharp stroke of ink, every waxy curve of the Caraval master's silver crest — a sun with a star inside and a teardrop inside of the star. The same seal was watermarked onto the enclosed slips of paper.

This was no prank.

"Donatella!" Scarlett plunged down the steps into the barrel room in search of her younger sister. The familiar scents of molasses and oak snaked up her nose, but her scoundrel of a sibling was nowhere to be found.

"Tella — where are you?" Oil lamps cast an amber glow over bottles of rum and several freshly filled wooden barrels. Scarlett heard a moan as she moved past, and she caught bits of heavy breathing as well. After her latest battle with their father, Tella had probably drunk too much, and now dozed somewhere on the floor. "Dona —"

She choked on the last half of her sister's name.

"Hullo, Scar."

Tella flashed Scarlett a sloppy grin, all white teeth and swollen lips. Her honey-blond curls were a mess as well, and her shawl had fallen to the floor. But it was the sight of the young sailor, with his hands wrapped around Tella's waist, that made Scarlett stutter, "Did I interrupt something?"

"Nothing we can't start up again." The sailor spoke with a lilting Southern Empire accent, far smoother-sounding than the sharp Meridian Empire tongues Scarlett was accustomed to.

Tella giggled, but at least she had the grace to blush a little. "Scar, you know Julian, right?"

"Lovely seeing you, Scarlett." Julian smiled, as cool and seductive as a slice of shade in the Hot Season.

Scarlett knew the polite response would be something along the lines of "Good to see you, too." But all she could think about were his hands, still coiled around Tella's periwinkle skirts, playing with the tassels on her bustle, as if she were a parcel he couldn't wait to unwrap.

Julian had only been on the isle of Trisda about a month. When he'd swaggered off his ship, tall and handsome, with golden-brown skin, he'd drawn almost every woman's eye. Even Scarlett's head had turned briefly, but she'd known better than to look any longer.

"Tella, mind if I pull you away for a moment?" Scarlett managed to nod politely at Julian, but the instant they'd woven through enough barrels to be out of his hearing she said, "What are you doing?"

"Scar, you're getting married; I would think you'd be aware of what occurs between a man and a woman." Tella nudged her sister's shoulder playfully.

"That's not what I'm talking about. You know what will happen if Father catches you."

"Which is why I don't plan on getting caught."

"Please be serious," Scarlett said.

"I am being serious. If Father catches us, I'll just find a way to blame it on you." Tella gave a tart smile. "But I don't think you came down here to talk about that." Her eyes dropped to the letter in Scarlett's hands.

The hazy glow of a lantern caught the metallic edges of the paper, making them blaze a shimmery gold, the color of magic and wishes and promises of things to come. The address on the envelope lit up with equal luster.

Miss Scarlett Dragna Care of the priests' confessional Trisda Conquered Isles of the Meridian Empire

Tella's eyes sharpened as she took in the radiant script. Scarlett's sister had always liked beautiful things, like the young man still waiting for her behind the barrels. Often, if Scarlett lost one of her prettier possessions, she could find it tucked away in her younger sister's room.

But Tella didn't reach out to take this note. Her hands remained at her sides, as if she wanted nothing to do with it. "Is this another letter from the count?" She spat out the title as if he were the devil.

Scarlett considered defending her fiancé, but her sister had already clearly expressed her thoughts on Scarlett's engagement. It made no difference that arranged marriages were very much in fashion throughout the rest of the Meridian Empire, or that for months the count had faithfully sent Scarlett the kindest letters; Tella refused to understand how Scarlett could marry someone she'd never met in person. But wedding a man she'd never seen frightened Scarlett far less than the thought of staying on Trisda.

"Well," Tella pressed, "are you going to tell me what it is, then?"

"It's not from the count." Scarlett spoke quietly, not wanting Tella's sailor friend to overhear. "It's from the master of Caraval."

"He wrote you back?" Tella snatched the note. "God's teeth!"

"Shhh!" Scarlett pushed her sister back toward the barrels. "Someone might hear you."

"Am I not allowed to celebrate now?" Tella retrieved the three slips of paper hidden within the invite. Lamplight caught their water seals. For a moment they glowed gold, like the edges of the letter, before shifting to a dangerous shade of bloody crimson.

"Do you see that?" Tella gasped as swirls of silver letters materialized across the page, slowly dancing into words: Admit One: Donatella Dragna, of the Conquered Isles.

Scarlett's name appeared on the other.

The third only contained the words Admit One. Like the other invites, this was printed above the name of an isle she'd never heard of: Isla de los Sueños.

Scarlett imagined this nameless invitation was meant for her fiancé, and for a moment she thought of how romantic it could be to experience Caraval with him once they were married.

"Oh, look, there's more!" Tella squealed as new lines of script appeared on the tickets.

To be used once, to gain entrance into Caraval.

Main gates close at midnight, on the thirteenth day of the Growing Season, during the 57th year of the Elantine Dynasty. Anyone who arrives later than this will not be able to participate in the game, or win this year's prize of one wish.

"That's only three days away," Scarlett said, the bright colors she'd felt before turning to her usual dull shades of gray disappointment. She should have known better than to think, even for a moment, that this could work out. Maybe if Caraval were in three months, or even three weeks — sometime after she was married. Scarlett's father had been secretive about the exact date of her wedding, but she knew it would not be in less than three days. Leaving before then would be impossible — and far too dangerous.

"But look at this year's prize," said Tella. "A wish."

"I thought you didn't believe in wishes."

"And I thought you'd be happier about this," Tella said. "You know people would kill to get their hands on these?"

"Did you not see the part where he said we need to leave the isle?" No matter how badly Scarlett longed to go to Caraval, she needed to get married even more. "To make it in three days, we'd probably have to leave tomorrow."

"Why do you think I'm so excited?" The glimmer in Tella's eyes grew brighter; when she was happy, the world turned shimmery, making Scarlett want to beam along with her and say yes to whatever her sister desired. But Scarlett had learned too well how treacherous it was to hope in something as illusive as a wish.

Scarlett sharpened her voice, hating herself for being the one to crush her sister's joy, but better she than someone who would destroy even more than that. "Were you also drinking rum down here? Have you forgotten what Father did the last time we tried to leave Trisda?"

Tella flinched. For a moment she looked like the fragile girl she pretended so hard not to be. Then, just as quickly, her expression changed, pink lips curving once again, shifting from broken to unbreakable. "That was two years ago; we're smarter now."

"We also have more to lose," Scarlett insisted.

It was easier for Tella to brush aside what had happened when they'd attempted to go to Caraval before. Scarlett had never told her sister the entirety of what their father had done as retribution; she'd not wanted Tella to live in that much fear, to constantly look over her shoulder, to know there were worse things than their father's standard forms of punishment.

"Don't tell me this is because you're afraid it will interfere with your wedding." Tella gripped the tickets tighter.

"Stop." Scarlett grabbed them back. "You're going to crinkle their edges."

"And you're avoiding my question, Scarlett. Is this about your wedding?"

"Of course not. It's about not being able to get off the island tomorrow. We don't even know where this other place is. I've never heard of Isla de los Sueños but I know it's not one of the Conquered Isles."

"I know where it is." Julian stepped out from behind several rum barrels, flashing a smile that said he'd make no apologies for listening in on a private conversation.

"This doesn't concern you." Scarlett waved him away with her hand.

Julian looked at her strangely, as if a girl had never dismissed him. "I'm only trying to help. You've never heard of this isle because it's not part of the Meridian Empire. It's not ruled by any of the five Empires. Isla de los Sueños is Legend's private isle, only about two days' journey, and if you want to go there I can smuggle you onto my ship, for a price." Julian eyed the third ticket. Thick lashes lined his light brown eyes, just made for convincing girls to lift their skirts and open their arms.

Tella's words about people who'd kill for the tickets echoed in Scarlett's mind. Julian might have had a charming face, but he also had that Southern Empire accent, and everyone knew the Southern Empire was a lawless place.

"No," Scarlett said. "It's too dangerous if we get caught."

"Everything we do is dangerous. We'll be in trouble if we get caught down here with a boy," Tella said.

Julian looked offended at being referred to as a boy, but Tella went on before he could argue. "Nothing we do is safe. But this is worth the risk. You've waited your whole life for this, wished on every fallen star, prayed as every ship came into port that it would be that magical one carrying the mysterious Caraval performers. You want this even more than I do."

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world. Her grandmother's words played in Scarlett's head as she looked at the slips of paper in her hands. The Caraval stories she adored as a young girl never felt more real than they did in that moment. Scarlett always saw flashes of color attached to her strongest emotions, and for an instant goldenrod desire lit up inside her. Briefly, Scarlett let herself imagine what it would be like to go to Legend's private isle, to play the game and win the wish. Freedom. Choices. Wonder. Magic.

A beautiful, ridiculous fantasy.

And it was best to keep it that way. Wishes were about as real as unicorns. When she was younger Scarlett had believed her nana's stories about Caraval's magic, but as she'd grown, she'd left those fairy tales behind. She'd never seen any proof that magic existed. Now it seemed far more likely that her nana's tales were the exaggerations of an old woman.

A part of Scarlett still desperately wanted to experience the splendor of Caraval, but she knew better than to believe its magic would change her life. The only person capable of giving Scarlett or her sister a brand-new life was Scarlett's fiancé, the count.

Now that they were no longer held up to the lamplight, the script on the tickets had vanished and they looked almost ordinary again. "Tella, we can't. It's too risky; if we try to leave the isle —" Scarlett broke off as the stairs to the barrel room creaked. The heavy tread of boots followed. At least three sets.

Scarlett shot a panicked look at her sister.

Tella cursed and quickly made a motion for Julian to hide.

"Don't disappear on my account." Governor Dragna finished his descent, the sharp odor of his heavily perfumed suit spoiling the pungent scents of the barrel room.

Quickly, Scarlett shoved the letters into her dress pocket.

Behind her father, three guards followed his every step.

"I don't believe we've met." Ignoring his daughters, Governor Dragna reached a gloved hand toward Julian. He wore his plum-colored gloves, the shade of dark bruises and power.

But at least he still had the gloves on. The picture of civility, Governor Dragna liked to dress impeccably, in a tailored black frock coat and striped purple waistcoat. He was in his mid-forties but he'd not let his body turn to fat like other men. Keeping with the latest fashion, he kept his blond hair tied back with a neat black bow, showing off his manicured eyebrows and dark blond goatee.

Julian was taller, yet the governor still managed to look down upon him. Scarlett could see her father appraising the sailor's patched brown coat, and his loose breeches tucked into scuffed, knee-high boots.

It said much about Julian's confidence that he didn't hesitate before offering the governor his own, ungloved hand. "Good to meet you, sir. Julian Marrero."

"Governor Marcello Dragna." The men shook hands. Julian attempted to pull away, but the governor held on tight. "Julian, you must not be from this isle?"

This time, Julian did hesitate. "No, sir, I'm a sailor. First mate of El Beso Dorado."

"So, you're only passing through." The governor smiled. "We like sailors here. It helps our economy. People are willing to pay a lot to dock here, and they spend more money while they visit. Now, tell me, what did you think of my rum?" He waved his free hand around the barrel room. "I imagine that's what you were down here tasting?"


Excerpted from Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Copyright © 2017 Stephanie Garber. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Stephanie Garber loves Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where she feels as if the fantastical stories she loves to write about could actually come to life. When she's not writing young adult fantasy, she teaches creative writing at a private college in northern California, where she’s known for turning assignments into games and taking students on field trips that involve book signings. Caraval is her first novel for young adults. She would love to hear from you on social media.

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Caraval 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous 14 days ago
This book is an absolutely magical story. Pulls you in from the very first page! Full of action and adventure from the very beginning. Many unexpected twists and turns. I highly recommend it!
Seoling 22 days ago
There are very few first-in-series, debut books that come out that are able to capture your attention from the beginning to end. It’s even harder to know that you will be a hardcore champion for this book and author no matter what. Well, guess what? I have found such a gem in Stephanie Garber’s CARAVAL. This book is seriously one of the most magical books I have read. I hardly remember the last time I felt so giddy and wanted to believe in this magic, but I do recall such feelings when I first read the Harry Potter series. That’s right! I am equating the magic I feel from Harry Potter to this wonderfully pieced book. I will admit that I was outrageously confused by the time I read the last page, but it was the type of confusion that I didn’t care to be upset with because it was SO good. I imagine that there is some kind of mystery that Garber wanted her readers to keep with them. I mean, there are so many unanswered questions after all. CARAVAL is definitely ALICE IN WONDERLAND meets THE NIGHT CIRCUS. Even now as I type, I don’t even know how to put into words how much I loved this book. I suppose it’s easiest to start with the writing. Oh my god, I have read so few books that make things so tangible to me. When Scarlett talks about colors, emotions, people, everything, Garber captures everything in its very essence and matches it perfectly. You know that question of, “How do you describe [color] to someone who is blind?” Read them the descriptions in this book and I promise you that they’ll know exactly what it must look like. The language use is beyond dreamy and makes me crave more. One of my favorite scenes was a very sultry and seductive one. Do you know the scene in Ratatouille where Remy is talking to his brother about how food affects the senses? This is totally how I felt when CERTAIN STEAMY KISSES AND LIFE FORCES were being exchanged. Like little pops of color and sparks and someone throwing gauzy organza and silk on me while warmth and colors swarm my thoughts. Does that make sense? I don’t know. I loved the characters 100%. I was so scared that they were going to go downhill and become incredibly predictable. There were some instances where the character relationships were predictable, but it was so enjoyable because those characters were well written. I am mad for Julian. I didn’t quite like him at first, but then he quickly grew on me and I was so smitten for him and all the revelations and realizations that Scarlett found out throughout the book about him. By the end, I just wanted to hug him tightly and give him a deliciously baked cookie that was crunchy on the outside and gooey in the middle. He was definitely one of the most tragic characters I’ve read in a while. I was rooting for Scarlett the whole way through. It’s rare that an author can make a selfless character so…UNANNOYING because you assume that whomever or whatever makes them selfless becomes their identity. I can justly say that her selflessness does not define her. She is strong and brave and such a wonderful heroine to add to ones like Mare Barrow, Laia of Serra, Inej Ghafa, and so many more that are great role models for young girls and boys. Sure, she may not be nifty with a dagger or exert some superhuman ability, but she’s one of those wonderful characters that is comparable because of who she’s is. I just love her to bits and I really loved how she interacted with characters (especially Julian and Tella!)
Anonymous 2 hours ago
TElizabeth97 5 days ago
A highly enjoyable novel that whisks you away into a whimsical escape from reality. Unpredictable with a satisfying ending that also leaves you wanting more.
Anonymous 5 days ago
Great read. Can't wait for mor!
AlexandraOtt 8 days ago
I absolutely adored this book. This story is so immersive and intriguing that I was hooked from the very first page. The magical world of Caraval is alluring and dazzling, and the imagery is absolutely exquisite. The game of Caraval itself is full of intrigue, magic, danger, and deception. I was constantly surprised by the twists and turns; the second you think you know what's really going on, there's another reveal that you didn't see coming. In addition to the twists, the relationships (romantic and otherwise) are fantastic. I'm always a fan of sister stories, and Caraval didn't disappoint in that regard either; Scarlett and Donatella's devotion to each other is incredible. And after that ending, I can't wait for the sequel! This is a truly mesmerizing and magical debut.
TheThoughtSpot 8 days ago
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review Caraval by Stephanie Garber! Scarlett and Donatella are treated harshly by their father. They have both always wanted to see Caraval since their grandmother told them stories about it years ago. They plan on running away to see Caraval and never coming back to their father. He has threatened them with harm if they ever leave and he has even gone to the extreme lengths of committing murder to keep Scarlett and Donatella on the island with him. Tella left their rooms a mess to make their father believe they were kidnapped while they sailed with Julian to Caraval, Legend's private island. The game on Caraval that Legend controls is adventurous, daring, mysterious and frightening. Scarlett never knows, from beginning to end, what is real and what is just the game. I grew to care about Scarlett and I wanted her to finally find happiness. I also admire her for the bravery and love she demonstrates to help her sister, Tella. Their father is selfish and violent and I wanted the sisters to be free of him. I also like the setting and time the story takes place in. It was familiar but also new at the same time because of Stephanie Garber's clever writing. 5 stars for the magical mystery of the game and all of its characters!
Anonymous 12 days ago
The writing hooked me from page 1 of the sample. The story seemed too, well, predictable. But it was far from that. As a writer, I like to think I figure things out very quickly in books. A few people die, sure. Hero wins, sure but in this story it's hard to tell if anyone is given the role of "hero" or "villian". It's a story of self-doubt and questioning what happens throughout the book. It's an enchanting story, and a place of dreams.
MasonCanyon 12 days ago
Author Stephanie Garber writes in such vibrant colors. Sounds weird? Then you’ll just have to experience CARAVAL to accurately understand. The colors surround you through narrator Rebecca Soler’s delivery of this intriguing story. Her rendering of this tale will hold you spellbound. She gives distinct voices to the various characters as she brings them to life. Her cadence and timing are perfect. The author has created a mesmerizing story of heartache and hope, despair and dreams, betrayal and trust. Her colorful descriptions and eye for detail bring an enchanted land to life as it envelopes you. Listeners/readers are easily ensnared into this magical atmosphere the author has forged. The characters are likable (except for a few) and all are well-developed. Scarlett’s devotion to her sister Tella is endearing. Tella’s rebellious streak is a bit contagious. The players of Caraval are magical and mysterious. The story moves at a good pace keep listeners/readers fully engaged from beginning to end. The clandestine setting of Caraval lends itself to twists, turns and many surprises. This enchanted world will hold you spellbound as the lives of these two sisters unravel and rewinds in ways they never imaged. CARAVAL is that mystical place we all may want to go to in order to reach our fantasies without knowing the price we’d truly have to pay. An enthralling start to what promises to be a fascinating series. FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this audio book was sent to me by the publisher. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
maggie-martin94 14 days ago
It's been quite some time since I've stayed up much past my bedtime to finish a book. I FLEW through the last two hundred pages as I tried to unravel Caraval with Scarlett. Each time I thought I'd finally figured everything out, another twist would come up and erase all of my notions. SUCH a delightful read. Highly, highly recommend!
Anonymous 20 days ago
This book is beautiful, vibrant, eerie, and unpredictable in all the best ways. To me it had undertones of Alice's Adventures Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass, while being channeled through the brilliantly colorful and vibrant mind of Tim Burton. Basically, Stephanie Garbor is a genius and has made it to my all time favorite author list. The characters made me feel very invested. and each chapter felt new and exciting striking a perfect balance between action scenes and world building. This book made me feel things, it made the darkness inside feel real and the light feel pure and raw. This book while saying "it is a game" on the cover really isnt a competition per say. It is an adventure. Our main heroine, Scarlett, is not racing and fighting against other players, but instead against herself, time, the master of the game, and her life as she knows it. She grows, she stumbles, she feels, and every bit of it you feel and grow with her. BUY. THIS. BOOK.
MissPrint 22 days ago
Scarlett and her younger sister Tella grew up hearing their grandmother reminisce about visiting Caraval as a young woman. Scarlett writes to Legend every year hoping against hope that he might bring Caraval back to the small island of Trisda in the Conquered Isles. When tickets to Caraval finally arrive, Scarlett knows she won't be able to go. Not when being prepared for her upcoming arranged marriage, which can free Tell and herself from their abusive father, is far more pressing. Except impetuous Tella has other plans and recruits a disreputable sailor to help bring Scarlett to the magical show. Caraval is meant to be a game and a decadent diversion for both players and spectators. But Tella's disappearance is very real and, Scarlett soon realizes, central to this year's game. As Scarlett tries desperately to follow the clues to her sister, the dangers of the supposed show become very real. If she fails to find Tella and win the game, Scarlett risks losing her sister forever in Caraval (2017) by Stephanie Garber. Caraval is Garber's debut novel and the first book in a series. The book is written in close third person following Scarlett's perspective. Although the epilogue promises twists and adventures in future installments, this novel functions for the most part as a standalone. Garber's vibrant descriptions bring the whimsical and dangerous elements of Caraval to life as Scarlett begins to discover the wonders to be found in a place where secrets can become currency and time can be bought and sold. Scarlett is a cautious and timid heroine for much of Caraval. She has spent years trying to shelter her sister from their father's calculated abuse and manipulations. Scarlett's primary concerns are safety and distance from her father. Love, adventure, and all of the things Tella craves feel secondary if not entirely superfluous in comparison. Caraval features a varied array of characters and some romance but this novel remains surprisingly introspective in its focus on Scarlett's own journey toward autonomy and agency. A few predictable twists and some unexpected turns serve as a strong backdrop for Scarlett's growth as she realizes she is the victim of her father's abuse, not the cause. As Scarlett moves deeper into the machinations of Caraval she begins to correct her earlier mistakes both in the game and in her own life while learning to trust her instincts. Caraval is a thrilling and evocative fantasy sure to appeal to readers who enjoy stories imbued with magic and adventure. Intricate world building and the circus-like atmosphere of Caraval lend this novel an extra bit of flair that even Legend would admire. Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater *An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2016*
ManiB 23 days ago
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.” I had been looking forward to this book for months. I kept trying to get an ARC of it but no dice, had to wait for the release date like everyone else. Nearly pounced on the the poor UPS guy when he finally showed up with it at 5pm. How could I resist a book that promises magic, mystery, drama, and just a touch of heartbreak? Stick that all in a pot, give it a good stir, and you have yourself the makings of a good book. Alright. Before I get too far along here, something has been nagging at me. I’ve read dozens of reviews of this books. The lucky ducks who did manage to get ARCs of it have been popping their thoughts up on Goodreads for weeks. Of all of them, I only read one or two that went, “Hey wait, does this remind any one else of The Night Circus?” Yes. Yes, it does. Thank you for saying so. We have the magic circus/carnival, the master/masters overseeing things with their own set of rules, a forbidden love, delicious and extraordinary food that is never seen outside of the venue, and Caraval even goes black and white for a few pages under a magical influence much like Le Cirque des Rêves is. I’m not complaining, mind you, I just found it odd that no one was mentioning the parallels. Now that that is off of my chest… We begin with two sisters, Donatella and Scarlett, who live a rather isolated life with their father. He is a hard and cruel man who takes any opportunity to physically and mentally punish them. I wanted to reach in the pages and slap him around. He had even gone as far as murdering a man who was trying to help his daughters. The girls want to escape their oppressive life and Scarlett means to give them that escape by marrying a count who would take them away from the prison they were forced to call home. When tickets arrive for them to get into the magical Caraval, a wrench gets thrown into her plans. She had always wanted to go but she knows her marriage and ticket to freedom are upcoming and if she goes to Caraval those will be taken from her forever. Donatella has other plans and along with the help of a dashing sea captain, they kidnap Scarlett and head to the mysterious island that is home to Caraval. Upon arriving on the island Donatella immediately disappears which sends Scarlett into a frenzy as she feels it is her responsibility alone to watch out for Tella. That was irksome about Scarlett. Every action she took was about finding and saving Tella. It never occurs to her that Tella is an independent and intelligent woman who, perhaps, is capable of saving herself. So Scarlett along with Julian, the sea captain who took them to the island, enter into Caraval and begin their search for Tella. Caraval itself is full of wonder and the fantastic. People come from all around to take part in it. During the day the guests are confined to their hotels but at night everything comes alive. The guests take part in solving a mystery. This year, the mystery is the disappearance of Donatella. There are clues, some they are given and some they must find, to lead them to the damsel in distress. Scarlett, of course, is frantic to find her sister. She and Julian follow the clues and find themselves pretty constantly in some sort of perilous peril. The most enjoyable part of the story for me was Scarlett’s progression... (read complete review at http://literaryweaponry.com)
book_junkee 24 days ago
Yes, even after a reread this is still my top book of 2016. I love love love Scarlett. She's so good and so genuine that you can't help but root from her right from the first page. I loved Tella's impulsiveness and Julian's Julian-ness and I sincerely hope we get a deleted scene of the governor finding himself in a room filled with Legos when he discovers he is barefoot. The imagery is some of the absolute best. There's magic and trickery and just when I thought I knew what was happening, something else blow my mind. The ending isn't cliffhangery, but it is a slight enigma and I want even wait to see what happens next. **Huge thanks to Flatiron Books for providing the arc free of charge**
jeanniezelos 24 days ago
Caraval,  Stephanie Garber Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy Well, this really is a magical book, and that part I adored. Its so full of secrets, of things that are not as they seem, of twists and turns that predicting who is who and what will happen just isn’t possible. Its got a YA feel to it, and yet if you like reads that are pure fantasy, full of magic, colour and impossibilities this will appeal whatever your age. For me the magic was the best part, I liked Scarlett and the mysterious Julian, enjoyed meeting the weird and wonderful characters of Caraval, was entranced by the danger disguised as fun feel of Caraval, the way we never quite know if the dangers are real. There were plenty of unexpected events, things that totally came out of the blue and the ending...well, didn’t see that coming. I did feel a little confused at the finish, had to go back a reread parts to fit it all together, and TBH it was a little ambiguous for me, I like things to be more defined, but then again leaving parts open mean that the reader can kind of put their own ending in ;-) if they want. I didn’t realise there was a second book until I came to write my review, and that makes more sense of the ending, but as Caraval is over what will it be? Will it be what we've seen but from another perspective, or will the main players, Scarlett, Tella and Julian be part of some kind of follow up and consequences of the decisions in Caraval, and the events behind them? Will we ever know the real story about their grandmother and Legend, and who is their mother and what happened to her? Of course the big question they’re all asking (and me) is who is Legend, what and what are his motives? It kind of ends leaving me with more questions that I started. I want to read book two of course and I think it’ll be one of those duos where book two will make more sense of book one for me, and I’ll read both together and enjoy the story fully knowing the whole picture. Stars: Four, a fabulous magical read, that might become a five when I’ve read book two :-)   ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Alyssa75 26 days ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Caraval by Stephanie Garber Book One of the Caraval series Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication Date: January 31, 2017 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game. Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over. But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever. What I Liked: I admit - even though I'm reading this book more than a month ahead of the publication date, I was massively afraid of being let down by the hype. This book has an incredible amount of hype surrounding it, and it's scary when that is the case. I actually got a copy of the book months ago, for review, but I've been pushing it off because of, well, the hype. This book has gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews, and when that happens, I get scared. Thankfully, I had nothing to be scared of. This book was nowhere near disappointing or over-hyped. For anyone in a similar situation as me (feeling discouraged because of the ridiculous amount of hype), know that the hype is one hundred percent worth it. This book deserves the insane marketing plan and campaign behind it, because it. Is. Amazing. Scarlett and her younger sister Tella have lived their entire lives on the Conquered Isles, under their father's tyrannical keeping. Their father has arranged a secretive marriage for Scarlett, which is coming up soon. But something surprising happens - Scarlett is sent an invitation with three tickets to Caraval. Scarlett has written letters to Legend, the organizer of Caraval for years, and he has finally invited her, her sister, and a third guest. Getting off the island and to the island hosing Caraval is one obstacle; navigating Caraval is another. When Tella goes missing before Caraval even begins, Scarlett knows something else is afoot. She must play the game in hopes of finding her sister, who has been captured. The game is not as fantastical as one thinks - it is a game of life and death. I can definitely see why people would compare this book to The Night Circus - a book I absolutely loved. Both have a magical, mesmerizing quality to them. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
Rebecca_J_Allen 26 days ago
Caraval is the story of Scarlett, a girl who is desperate to escape her violent and controlling father and to take her younger sister, Donatella, with her. Scarlet hopes marriage to a man she's never met, a marriage arranged by her father, will save them. Donatella doesn’t believe it will, so she persuades a handsome sailor to transport them off their island home and to Caraval, a legendary once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show. But even before Scarlett reaches the gates to Caraval, Donatella disappears. Legend, the mysterious showman who runs Caraval, has made finding Donatella the puzzle every player will try to solve. Whoever finds her fist wins the prize, the granting of a wish. Scarlett must follow the clues in Legend’s game to find her sister, but winning won’t be easy. In Caraval, no one is what they seem. There are several things I love about about this story. The rich, magical world of Caraval, the tight bond of love between sisters that pulls Scarlett deeper into the game even as she’s desperate to head home for her wedding, and Scarlet’s growing attraction to Julian, the sailor. This story will pull you in, but remember, it’s only a game. I received an advanced reader copy of Caraval in a Goodreads giveaway and was asked to review. I also purchased a copy for myself and another for my niece for Christmas because…love! Find more book reviews at: https://writerebeccawrite.wordpress.com/