Book Review: Caraval Series


Bree Downs, Staff Writer- The Mustang Messenger

*may contain spoilers


Do you believe in magic? Do you believe someone could live for hundreds of years? Would you risk everything to play a game that changes everytime it’s played? Two sisters named Scarlett and Tella are trapped on a tiny island, not allowed to leave from their ruthless, cruel, and extremely powerful father. Scarlett has always been intriuged with the game of Caraval, having written to the gamemaster, Legend, ever since she was a little girl. The girls are giving up hope of leaving the island when their father arranges Scarlett to a marriage with a total stranger, and for him to gain more power and wealth. When Scarlett finally receives a letter back from Legend, she isn’t prepared for what it contains. He had sent her three tickets, one for herself, one for Tella, and one for her fiance. As she went to show her sister their way out, she walked into Tella and a shipboy together. After straightening up and discussing the situation, Scarlett and Tella realized this was the only way they would leave their father, but how were they going to make it there? They hadn’t realized the ship boy was standing there listening to them until he stated he could take them. After much hesitation, they finally decided to go. Along the journey to caraval island, Scarlett and Tella get separated, but Julian, the shipboy, reassures Scarlett that Tella will be fine. However, once they make it to the island, Tella is nowhere to be found. Scarlett and Julian eventually make their way to the game. Julian makes no hesitation when asked to be a player or watcher, for he quickly chose player, but when it was Scarlett’s turn, all she could think about was her sister’s whereabouts. Finally, she chose to be a player, however, she had no idea what she was playing for. Not until she heard the overhead speaker announce they are to find clues in order to save Donatella Dragna, her sister. Throughout Caraval there are many twists and turns. From why Tella went missing, what happens during the games, and who the people of caraval actually are. 


Caraval is an amazing trilogy series by Stephanie Garber. There is mystery, romance, and adventure. Throughout the book, there are so many things that happen that you would never think would. The point of Caraval is to recognize the lines between fantasy and reality, and believe in what you deem to be real. In the book, they are in the game, and everything seems real, but is it? They have no way of telling, except believing themselves. Yet how can they believe in themselves when everything is twisted and becoming unhinged? If you love competition and fantasy, this book is for you. Many people don’t turn out to be who you think they are, and you come to find out the truth behind the games. 


This series has received 4/5 stars on reviews and some of them state, “I fell in love with each of the characters, and it was just the right amount of mystery, romance, and magic.”(Hokanson) and “I want people to know that this is the kind of book that keeps you hooked. I loved it, it was a little dark and mysterious.”(Goraya). After asking a sophomore at McCracken County if they would recommend the Caraval series, they answered, “I would definitely recommend this series. It took a little bit to get through they beginning of the first book, but once I got further, everything started falling into place.” There have been multiple recommendations for the Caraval series since it came out in 2016, but it has gained more popularity throughout the last year. The second and third books continue the story from the first book but are told from a different character’s perspective in each.


To sum up, the Caraval series is a must read for anyone who likes mystery, competition, and romance. There is so much to unpack, yet it all fits into place. When I first got the book, I held off reading it, but after many people told me how good it was, I found out that they were right. I couldn’t put the book down and soon got the other books in the series. This series makes you ask yourself many questions, but mainly, what is real?