Caraval (Your Bedtime Story Meets Saw) | Book Review


By: Stephanie Garber

#1 in Caraval Series | 407 Pages | Pub. 2017

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Caraval at a Glance

  • Overall Rating: ★★★ 1/2
  • Heroine: The only girl ok with an arranged marriage
  • Dude: Flynn Rider meets Jack Sparrow
  • Steaminess: I think time tripled instead of standing still
  • Brutality: Sleeping with the fishes

Pairs Well With:

Caraval Cocktail

  • 4 oz raspberry vodka
  • 4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 4 oz raspberry puree
  • ½ tsp grated ginger
  • 3 rosemary sprigs

Beware Spoilers are Coming…

Jess’s Reactions

I feel like I have loved a higher than normal number of books lately. Maybe we are just choosing better books? Either way, Caraval is one of those books that people seem very 50/50 about. They love it or meh…

I LOVED it. I ate this book up, reading it so fast that my husband even commented on how ridiculously fast I read it. Reading Caraval was liking hearing a bedtime story mixed with Saw. Not for the chopping off of legs, but because you have no idea who you can trust! I love thrillers and mind games so this book just made me happy.

I felt horrible for Scarlett because she and Tella have been treated like objects their entire lives. Her evil dad’s whole punishment system is another evil mind fuck. He beats and injures the innocent child. If Scarlett lies, Tella gets beaten, so the two sisters are always blaming each other for everything. Daddy needs to die asap.

Scarlett tries to save Tella who has been kidnapped by Legend, the notorious master of Caraval. And Scarlett is literally the best sister in the history of sisters. This entire time she is running around like crazy, not sleeping and even losing days of her life to save Tella. She is assisted/followed around by Julian, hot sailor man. I actually thoroughly enjoyed their little love story because I wasn’t sure if he was acting the whole time or what his motives were. I admit that I actually got a little too caught up in the whole story to see what was going on. Which is the point! But, I loved their banter, it was pretty adorable.

“Don’t look at me like that. It doesn’t work on me.”

“That’s why it’s so funny.”

I don’t want to give away why the ending made me rage, but let’s just say I am excited to read Legendary, but not thrilled that Tella is the MC.

Teagan Review

I didn’t hate Caraval but I didn’t love it like I expected to. Something about this book just didn’t click with me. I’ve tried to read this book 3 times and the only reason I got through it this time was to write this review. Though I do respect Garber’s beautiful writing style and the Alice in Wonderland vibes she invoked from me.

The descriptions of Caraval were beautiful and intriguing but I felt as though there was simply too much going on for me to focus on anything. It was also confusing. I couldn’t connect with the story or Scarlett as she constantly ran around – I get that’s the point of the game, it just wasn’t my kind of plot.

I also felt the story lacked meaningful worldbuilding and character development which tend to be what I appreciate in a fantasy novel. But, not all novels work that way and that’s okay! I still respect Caraval and Garber nonetheless! 🙂

I’m mostly pissed off that the douchebag father didn’t die a brutal death. If this doesn’t happen in Legendary I might want my money back.

Have you read Caraval? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

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20 thoughts on “Caraval (Your Bedtime Story Meets Saw) | Book Review

  1. Great reviews ya’ll! I like Caraval but I really loved Legendary!
    I didn’t think I would since I wasn’t a big fan of Tella from this book.
    Can’t wait for your next reviews!


  2. Same! I disliked Tella immensely, so I’m hoping for better from Legendary. (Although Strange the Dreamer has trumped it lately)

    I wanted to love this book but it was OK, I read it insanely fast but was disappointed how magic just solved everything.

    I can’t wait to see what you guys think of Legendary!! Lovely review guys!


      1. My stunning hardcover edition came to me last week but I’m planing to re-read Caraval beforehand. I’m hoping to get around to it in the next few weeks. I’m just hoping I like it – I hated Tella in Caraval so I hope her character is developed well


      2. For sure they are – I just hauled a whole bunch (my bank account didn’t appreciate it though I’m happy) and some of them are simply gorgeous! Heart of Iron and Wintersong are some of my favorite hard covers because the paper quality and the design of the book is beautiful. They definitely make my bookshelf look good

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yesssss! Caraval! I’m with Jess on this one, I really loved Caraval and was so surprised by the twisty plot. Nothing that I thought would happen happened. I was also a complete Tella hater, which made me super concerned about reading Legendary. But actually Legendary made me love Tella and hate Scarlett?? I’m super curious to hear what you think of it! Everyone seems so divided about this series. Great review guys!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I felt the same way at the ending (I was a little pissed about everything Scarlett was put through to say the least) but after rereading it I felt like I got some more perspective and was more open to Tella narrating the second book–and omygod Legendary was just that, Legendary. I can’t wait to see what you think of it because it blew me away.

    Liked by 1 person

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