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Caraval Reviewed By Ashley Canter


“Caraval,” by Stephanie Garber (2017), is a young adult novel and a journey into magical realism that introduces readers to a world that sits just beyond our reach. Caraval is described as a magical game and the book will leave you wishing you had tickets, even though the game might cost you your life. Reminiscent of a carnival, the Caraval’s bright lights and dazzling games cleverly conceal something sinister lurking underneath. As a guest, you may either spectate or participate. If you participate, you could win this year’s fantastical prize, a wish for absolutely anything, but only if you can follow the clues. No one returns home the same person they were when they first entered Caraval. The game changes all, especially those who participate and some people will do anything to win the prize.

As children, Scarlett and Tella loved the stories their grandmother told about Caraval. The sisters desperately wish to attend. After years of writing letters to Master Legend, Caraval’s owner and leader, Scarlett finally receives three tickets and an invitation to be a special guest. However, when the sisters arrive, they find things more foreboding than they could ever have imagined.

In a world where dresses are traded for days, Scarlett must find a way to navigate the ominous games before she loses her sister or her own life. Julian, the boy always conveniently around, is keeping something from her, but she has no choice but to trust him if she is going to find Tella before the five-day time limit expires. The days tick away quicker than Scarlett can put together the clues, especially with other players constantly getting in the way. To every other player, it is merely the game of a lifetime. To Scarlett, it is literally a game of lives as she attempts to save Tella. After reading this compelling debut, I will be a life- long reader of anything Garber writes. “Caraval” was mesmerizing and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end, each twist more surprising than the last. It is being compared to “The Night Circus,” by Erin Morgenstern, but it is a genre all its own. “Caraval” is magic realism, a love story, and thriller all in one. But remember, it is only a game…


Ashley is a senior at Troy University who hopes to become a high school English teacher after graduation. Currently, she works for Books-A-Million where she can be around her favorite thing, books. She is an avid reader and reached a personal goal in 2016 by finishing a total of 300 books (this includes audiobooks). She is constantly recommending her favorites to friends and customers. One day, she hopes to find her own book on the shelves.

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