Happy Saturday guys! This review is a little different because I’m reviewing a whole trilogy at once. I’m going to review them all together to avoid spoilers. So this is how it will work. I’ll do a synopsis of book 1 then my spoiler free review for all three. After the review I’ll give a summary of book 2 and 3 so if you haven’t read them, don’t read that part. Stop when I warn you and you won’t get any spoilers!
Books: Caraval, Legendary, Finale
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: YA Fantasy
Who should read this: YA fans, Fantasy fans, magic fans.
Book 1: Caraval – We start by meeting the sisters, Scarlett and Donatella Dragna. Scarlett is our narrator and we quickly learn the her mother is long gone and her father is an evil tyrant. Scarlett is a little older than Tella and acts as a typical big sister would with no mom around, very protective. So a not uncommon trope, two beautiful sisters suffering under the tyranny of their brutal father wishing to escape. Scarlett is engaged to a man from another island that she hasn’t met yet, only corresponded via letters. It’s an arranged marriage her father set up, and she believes this is her ticket to freedom and getting her and her sister away from their father. Tella disagrees and is worried this mystery man will be just as bad or worse than her father. So Tella devises another plan, to kidnap her sister and take her to Caraval where they can hopefully escape from papa and runaway. Caraval is a travelling carnival that is difficult to see because it only happens once a year and you need an invitation. Somehow the girls manage to get tickets and though Scarlett protests, they go. That’s when the magic begins. Caraval is a game played by everyone in attendance. It’s 5 nights full of magic and the winner gets a prize from Legend, the elusive ringmaster. All the magic of Caraval comes from Legend and no one knows what he looks like. You might meet him in the game and not even know. When Scarlett and Tella get separated on route, the ship hand that helped the girls get to Caraval, Julian, helps Scarlett get to the game. When she starts the game she is told Legend has taken her sister and she will win the game if she can find her. And the game begins. Julian stays with Scarlett and helps her throughout the game and they start to fall in love and there you go.
Plot 2/2 points: The story is really cool. There’s so much magic and wonder involved with Caraval and Scarlett and Tella are swept through it all, good and bad. It’s a very beautiful world that is created. The story is a standard teenage angsty love story but it’s well done. It’s your classic fall in love, get hurt, distrust, trust again, fall back in love, get hurt, why does this keep happening, let it go and just love kind of story. Each book has it’s own plot but they tie together really well. Usually the second book in a trilogy is a little boring but the author did well. The first book is narrated by Scarlett, then book two is narrated by Tella. The third book is both. So in the second book you have a completely new perspective which at first I thought I wouldn’t like but I did.
Magic/fantasy 2/2: It’s really well done. The descriptions of all the magic are beautiful and there’s some really cool stuff. For example, Scarlett has this weird ability to see emotions in colour. So she can see her emotions and the people’s she’s close to and every emotion has a different colour that she has learned over the years. Also at the first Caraval she is given a magic dress that changes shape and colour with her mood or the occasion. So it will turn black if she’s sad, and usually turns into a sexy red thing around Julian. It will turn into a night dress when she’s ready for bed too. It’s pretty cool.
Writing 1/2: The writing is good don’t get me wrong but it’s obviously YA and I have trouble not rolling my eyes at some of the descriptions. There’s a weird focus on eyes in this book, all the beautiful eyes. I think for people a bit younger than me or people that read YA more often it wouldn’t bother you at all. Ps. I’m 32.
Hook/Cliffhangar 2/2: The day I finished Caraval I went out and bought book two and three. Caraval got me hooked on the characters, even though I thought they made some stupid decisions. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Legendary had the same effect. The ending was crazy. Finale very nicely wrapped up all the loose ends too which I always like in a series. The last book better not leave me hanging. The hook in all three books was good too.
Feel 1/2: Okay here Garber lost another point because I’m older than her target audience so it’s not really her fault. These freaking under 20’s were running around making bad decisions left right and centre. I was getting so annoyed with what they were doing. I was literally yelling at the end of Caraval, like what are you doing!! So the characters, not all of them, are young and stupid. I know I sound like a grandma when I say that and I definitely had my fair share of stupid decisions as a teenager. But reading about them as an adult is a little frustrating. However, I still really enjoyed the books, I kept reading hoping things would get better and they did. One more thing, these sisters would not stop lying to each other and that was also driving me insane. They were trying to protect each other but they were doing it wrong…
So overall I really enjoyed the plot and setting, the magic was wonderful and the love story was great. I was just a little annoyed by the teenagers.
STOP SPOILERS AHEAD. DON’T READ UNLESS YOU’VE READ BOOK 1.
Book 2: Legendary – Scarlett has won Caraval and rescued her sister. They travel to Valenda with Julian and the rest of the Caraval crew by ship. On the ship Tella hooks up with Dante and a new love story begins. In Valenda’s capital another Caraval will happen to celebrate the Empress. This time Tella must play and win so she can discover the true identity of Legend. She is being blackmailed by a fate called the Prince of Hearts. We learn that the Fates are mostly trapped in a deck of cards but a few of them are out and they are trying to rescue the rest. They believe Legend can free them from the cards but he doesn’t want to. The whole book is told from Tella’s perspective while she tries to keep Scarlett out of it and away from the Prince of Hearts. She also comes to learn what happened to her mother.
STOP SPOILERS AHEAD. DON’T READ UNLESS YOU’VE READ BOOK 2.
Book 3: Finale – Scarlett and Tella have freed their mother and the rest of the Fates from the deck and the battle for Valenda begins. Legend and his crew, including Scarlett, Julian and Tella are working to save the city from the merciless fates and banish them back into the deck of cards. The love stories continue. This is the fastest paced book with the most magical characters and it’s wonderful.