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Series Review: Caraval – A wet noodle of a magic series

I’ve recently decided to take some trips down memory lane and revamp my reviews and post them on my blog rather than have them sit on Goodreads. Caraval is one of those.

I really had a hard time reading this series, and I feel bad because so many people seemed to love it. I stuck with it because I was hoping Tessa’s point of view in Legendary would sway my opinion, but it didn’t change much.

My video below also gives my opinion on the Caraval series along with some other books such as Serpent & Dove and Midnight Sun, which hopefully I’ll have reviews up for on my blog soon!

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Rating: 2 out of 5.

🌸 Title: Caraval

🌸Author: Stephanie Garber

🌸Published: January 31st, 2017 

🌸Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, Mystery


“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”

-Stephanie Garber, Caraval

Scarlett Dragna lives on a remote island with her sister, Tella. Forced to an arranged marriage, Scarlett dreams of visiting Caraval, a once-a-year performance, that everyone craves to see. Tella and a mysterious sailor make her dreams come true and take her to Caraval, but Tella quickly disappears, forcing Scarlett to find her before time runs out. Is it a game or only a performance?

A confusing yet magical ride, Caraval failed to execute what I thought was going to be a magical adventure.

I understand that this book was intended for the younger side of the YA genre. I do. But at the same time…the potential was there.

We have glimpses of this magical world, small things that were just never explained or detailed enough or brought into question by Scarlett.

Scarlett was over here randomly seeing colors everywhere, and it made no sense to me. At no point does she ever question it, she just kind of accepts it and moves on.

Was it part of the world? Why wasn’t she seeing them all the time? I had so many questions that should have been answered or at least questioned by Scarlett. They were just brushed to the side like they weren’t important.

I did not like Scarlett as the protagonist.

Too busy pining over guys and freaking out about her wedding, she forgot her main objective many times: finding her sister. She’s literally missing and Scarlett waits an entire evening just for a man.

Things like these drove me to almost close the book because I just…ugh. I couldn’t like her. I couldn’t. Nope.

Reaching the end, I pined for something to save this book.

Disappointing and cliché, the ending of Caraval failed to follow through.

I was so excited at the end, thinking that a lot was going to go down, but instead it left me…empty. As in, I wondered why I wasted hours reading this book, expecting a dramatic ending.

A happy ending does not make a good ending.

Caraval fails to bring magic to this magical world but is enjoyable enough to continue reading on.
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Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

🌸 Title: Legendary

🌸Author: Stephanie Garber

🌸Published:  May 29th, 2018

🌸Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, Mystery


“Gold shimmered no matter what, but few people could make darkness glitter the way he did.”

-Stephanie Garber, Legendary

After the events of Caraval, Tella Dragna and her sister have finally escaped their father and Scarlett is no longer engaged. Tella made a bargain with a stranger, and she must deliver Legend’s identity to him before it’s too late. Tella throws herself back into Caraval once again and into a secret of lies and secrets that may destroy her, Legend, and Caraval itself.

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Legendary starts with the POV of Tessa, Scarlett’s sister.

While Tessa’s point of view is much better, even if both sisters are stupid. Tessa is braver than Scarlett and has much more depth to her than Scarlett, giving Legendary a nice, fresh feeling.

At the same time, there were a lot of…writing errors I noticed.

The writing within Legendary was exponentially worse, and the only reason I read the book was to experience Tessa’s POV.

I’m not sure who looked over this book before publication but…geez. A few quotes I took from the beginning that just erred me to caution:

“Someone grunted the not-quite-satisfied sound of a person on the verge of waking up.”

“Not daring to open her eyes, she groaned and brushed bits of nature from her hair…”

There’s more, but I really can’t list them all because I’ll go insane. But not even just the writing is questionable.

The plot itself, without giving away major spoilers, is extremely iffy.

The Fates themselves aren’t even hinted at within Caraval, making Legendary feel like a new book or a spin-off of it rather than the sequel. Other plot points that I wish I could mention but can’t are equally just as confusing and make no sense.

The ending, again, was predictable, but still had better characterization and development, at the very least.

Legendary has worse writing with slightly a better main character, making it readable – but barely.
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Rating: 2 out of 5.

🌸 Title: Finale

🌸Author: Stephanie Garber

🌸Published: May 7th, 2019

🌸Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, Mystery


“Occasionally, there are minutes that get extra seconds. Moments so precious the universe stretches to make additional room for them.”

-Stephanie Garber, Finale

The Fates have been released from the deck of cards, Legend has claimed the throne, and the boy Tella loved doesn’t actually exist. Tella has to decide who to trust now while Scarlett must play her own dangerous game with a surprise that shocks them all. Finale will bring us the final game, and either they’ll win it all or lose it all.

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*Sigh.*

The entire Caraval series just didn’t quite flow properly for me.

I tried to like it. I did. I loved the feeling of the world, the dresses, the magic. It made me want to read The Night Circus because sometimes we just want a little bit of magic in our lives.

The Caraval series consisted of unnecessary love triangles, repetitive descriptions, convenient plot armor, and badly-written lines. It ultimately just made me rank the entire series at two stars, including Finale.

Finale, like its predecessors, failed to improve over time.

Weirdly, each book was different. Not much foreshadowing was given at all. It made what was coming a surprise, which I’m sure is what was intended, but it was too much of a surprise – more like completely unexpected.

Along with surprises, Finale, like its predecessors, also had so many clichés I wanted to shove them into a box.

Finale’s ending was rushed, cliché, and needed more time to be fleshed out.

The ending had a good premise. It tried to be better than the other books, but it just failed. We needed more to get the ending that we received.

You could say that that was the biggest issue with the entire Caraval series. I always finished the books wishing for more worldbuilding, characterization, and quite frankly, line editing.

I got none of those.

🌸FINAL THOUGHTS🌸

I have to give credit to the Caraval series. For some reason, I kept reading it. Was it the promise of magic? Was it the prospect of something new? I don’t really know.

But really, it just wasn’t that great.

Sadly, the Caraval series fails to deliver on all fronts and is, at best, a wet noodle of a magic series.

Like this review? Check out my other reviews on my blog here.

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