On My Bookshelf: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

August 06, 2018


The basic plot from Amazon: 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.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is full of magical details that reminded me of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: dresses that are constantly changing shape and color, potions that take a day of your life, cards with messages that appear and disappear. The eclectic cast of characters were also reminiscent of Carroll's books. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
Why I liked it: Caraval is full of magical details that reminded me of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: dresses that are constantly changing shape and color, potions that take a day of your life, cards with messages that appear and disappear. The eclectic cast of characters were also reminiscent of Carroll's books.

As a "type A" older sister, I could relate to Scarlett's difficulty straying from her life plans and her desire to protect her younger sister Donatella. The puzzler in me also appreciated the series of clues that Scarlett had to figure out to try to reach her sister. The book is as much about Scarlett finding her sister as it is about her finding herself. The plot was action packed with one twist after another until the final scenes of the book. I thought the plot was a little too drawn out once the sisters were reunited.

Classroom application: This one is for high school and up due to its mature themes (violence, death, romance). It is the first book in a trilogy with the third installment expected to be published in 2019, so students who like to get lost in a series will appreciate this one.

After reading, students could research the Caribbean tradition of carnivals and if you are lucky, there might even be an international one in your vicinity that students could attend. 

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Caraval for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is full of magical details that reminded me of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: dresses that are constantly changing shape and color, potions that take a day of your life, cards with messages that appear and disappear. The eclectic cast of characters were also reminiscent of Carroll's books. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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