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Publisher's Summary

This program includes a bonus interview with the author.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval - Stephanie Garber's sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game. 

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 faraway 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. 

©2016 Stephanie Garber (P)2016 Macmillan Audio

What the critics say

"Actor Soler's lively narration swiftly draws listeners into the magical spectacle at the center of Garber's YA novel." (Publishers Weekly, best audiobooks of 2017)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding!

A fantastic story. Beautifully written. I can't wait to read LEGENDARY and FINALE! Stephanie Garber's imagination must be experienced.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Original and deliciously magical

Caraval is a traveling troupe of actors led by the enigmatic magician Legend who put on the greatest performance ever to be experienced; a magical game where guests must follow clues to win the ultimate prize: One wish! Such an intriguing story with so many twists and turns within a magical game where you never can be certain what's real and what's part of the game. I really liked this audiobook, although the main character Scarlett was frustrating at times. The second novel where Tella is the protagonist is fantastic.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Dreamy, fantastic, mysterious settings

I loved this book because of its fantastic, dreamy, evocative scenes and descriptions. The world felt strange and mysterious and magical and very much as if every day rules did not apply. The only other book I can recall having the same feeling is "The High House" by James Stoddard - mysterious and a bit Victorian and full of hidden secrets. If you're not into flowery descriptions and magical mysteries though give this one a miss.

The story centers around two sisters, Scarlett and Donatella Dragna, whose mother mysteriously vanished when they were young and whose father became increasingly cruel and abusive after that. Scarlett has an impending arranged marriage with a count she hopes may provide a route for her and her sister to escape from her father, but before that wedding happens, the sisters receive tickets to attend Caraval - a magical annual game and competition that takes place over 5 days. There is only one winner, and this year the winner receives one wish. Nothing within Caraval is real, they are cautioned, and nothing unwraps as they expect. There are plenty of surprises and unexplained mysteries, and when 'Tella vanishes and it turns out the challenge of this year's Caraval is to be the first person to find her before she is killed, the stakes become suddenly darker.

The only reason I can't give this 5 stars is the YA factor felt too intrusive - I don't mind YA books but Scarlett constantly refers to the cute "boy" and there's so much teen longing and stubbornness that it was a bit hard to stomach at times.

Slight creepiness factor and trigger warnings: threat of rape at one point, and father is both physically and mentally abusive, though neither is graphic or dwelled on at unnecessary length. Also, given the age differences between a couple of the love interests, there's some slightly creepy romance dynamics at one point between a teen and someone who could probably be her great grandfather, if you actually think about the logistics.

Nonetheless, stayed up to 1am finishing this book and will likely pick up the sequel!

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Claire P.
  • Dallas, TX
  • 2017-03-03

Dreadful Drivel

While the narrator is wonderful, I felt bad for her having to read hours of this awful crap. This story is overwritten, full of stock characters, paper-thin plot devices and cliches of every description. Please do not bother.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-03-26

While many will love it, I did not.

I couldn't connect to the writing, the world, or the characters. Contains weird metaphors like "tasted like midnight" and "was the color of lost things". The world of Caraval was mostly lackluster with a few magical locales thrown in. Definitely not anything that swept me away. The romance felt forced and very angsty. Best thing about it was the premise, but sadly it just didn't deliver.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Shoshana Sakolsky
  • 2017-09-13

Ho hum

The story and main character were insipid and predictable. There was promise, but this book never really delivered.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Holly
  • 2017-03-14

Whoops!

This book was NOT For me. Silly, shallow plot line and one-note, "petulant" narrator drove me mad. I made my choice based on Audible's recommendation. Stuck with it just because. Putting this one behind me.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Just.me_mei
  • 2017-08-10

Ugh

I lost interest very very fast and the story wasn't worth the hype at all

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Oohla
  • 2017-07-20

I believed the hype and it fell short for me

I like the story from the beginning to caraval. Then things seem to be on an even plane from there. It was predictable and repetitious. The journey reminded me of Alice in wonderland. It wasn't as magical as I thought it would be. I would say more trippy than magical. I was looking for it to get better, but it never did. I believed the hype, but as some have stated, the story fell a bit flat. Ending was meh, I wanted more.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Hannah
  • 2017-04-11

Wants to be the Night Circus, but misses the mark.

I took a chance on this book after seeing fans of The Night Circus also enjoyed it. I wish these books had more in common than flowery descriptions. Throughout, Caraval is described as a magical place, but the author fails to follow through on the wonder and imagination. The wilting female protagonist heaves and sighs her way to a predictable, flat ending.

Narration wasn't anything out of the ordinary, though I tired of listening to her reedy wailing every time the protagonist cried 'Nooooooo!' Fans of The Night Circus, move along.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Bookworm
  • 2017-07-18

If I were a Caraval player, I'd ask for a refund.

Caraval is a magical game hosted on an island every year by the mysterious Legend. Scarlet has been writing to Legend for years, asking him to host Caraval in her home island so she and her sister can attend. Legend finally responds to her last letter before she gets married and sends tickets for Scarlett, her sister Tella, and Scarlett's fiance (whom she's never met). But the game is being hosted on another island, and Scarlett doesn't know how to get herself and her sister there without getting caught by their abusive, psychopath father. Tella, however, has been planning to escape, and when Scarlett tells her about the tickets to Caraval, Tella devices a plan to get them there with the help of a young sailor (Julian). But when Scarlett arrives with Julian at the new island, Tella is nowhere to be found, and Scarlett soon learns that finding her sister is all part of the game.

This book had the perfect ingredients for buttery, periwinkle greatness that fills the tongue with velvety joy, but the ingredients were poorly mixed and baked into a burnt, deflated pancake of moldy gloom and sour sprinkles the color of dejection green...

Ok it wasn't THAT bad, but you get the gist. That description, btw, should give you an idea of how the author likes to describe everything. Though I make fun of it, I have to admit it did add to the whimsical, magical theme of the story...except it's way overused, and half the time those descriptions made no sense:

"Aiko beckoned Scarlett onto a street lined with hanging lanterns, smelling of flowers and flutes and long-lost love"

Although I did like Scarlett, it annoyed me that she was constantly harping about being in Caraval to find/save her sister, and she reminded me of this every five minutes (in case I forgot because her actions said otherwise).

Another problem with the book is the dad. We are told he used to be a loving father until Scarlett's mother left them, and this somehow turned him into a villain who tortures his daughters and kills people who disobey. Yeah, right. I could see the dad being angry, depressed, detached, cold, indifferent, you name it. But an abusive father? I don't buy it. You don't become an abuser because your wife leaves you unless you were an abuser to begin with.

This book's biggest downfall, however, is its plot. Caraval is supposed to be this highly coveted, magical and whimsical game, but it was more along the lines of a bland scavenger hunt where all clues and answers conveniently fall into Scarlett's lap, and all the other players are irrelevant background fillers, thus robbing the story of any sense of competition, urgency or tension. All Caraval brings to the table is confusion and lies.

Bottom line: it's interesting and confusing enough to keep you invested in the story--and the characters are likable--but when all is revealed at the end, you might feel a little miffed.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Mommarose
  • Chicago,IL USA
  • 2017-04-02

Even my 8 year old daughter got annoyed.

I see so much potential here and it actually made it frustrating. Assigning colors to emotions as a way to articulate emotions felt lazy and absurd even to my daughter. She kept groaning everytime a "sunset yellow jelousy" or "chartreuse mortification " came up. It pulls you out of the story.

As for that, I'm not personally a fan of the "oh my stars and garters" heroine. I know the vapid and obsessive to the point of suicidal female is a popular trope, just look at the success of the Twilight series. that said it isn't really my bag.

I am afraid that I wasn't able to fairly rate the narrator this time around. My frustration with the discriptive voice somewhat soured my ear a bit too thoroughly. I honestly can say that the narrator did make it more tolerable and was likely a major factor in me listening as long as I did.

You know what? You might love it. If "plum purple malevolence" and petticoat smoothing primness sounds like something you can listen to in various forms for hrs then this book is calling out for you right now. The concept is truly captivating. The characters were multidimensional and had complex motivations.

As I said, there is so much potential here. I just feel that in my opinion there is more growing to do as an author. I do hope this author keeps developing that voice and goes on to be one of the great of our time. I might try again if I see another work from her.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • LMS64
  • 2017-11-07

Characters Fall Flat

I feel that this book really wants to be "The Night Circus" when it grows up. I can't say I didn't enjoy it but, I also can't say that I loved it. While the characters felt flat, elements of the game were imaginative and solidly written. As I listed to the audio version, there was an interview with Garber at the end. It sounds as though there is another book coming and maybe she can redeem her characters at that point.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful