Caraval and Legendary by Stephanie Garber // Are they worth the hype?!

If you haven’t heard of Caraval in your life, then, where have you been?

It was one of the hottest YA releases out there last year and EVERYONE was reading it.

Apart from me.

I only managed to read a copy this year and finally join in the hype, which had died down a lot, I admit. I won’t be sharing my thoughts on the books JUST yet (even though most of you probably know my thoughts on the book already) but when I received a package in the mail about 2 months ago, I quite literally was hyperventilating.

Inside the package was an EARLY copy of Legendary by Stephanie Garber and I could NOT be happier. It was beautiful in every sense of the word and I was so excited to dive into Caraval’s sequel!!

So today, I thought I’d do a DOUBLE review including the first book, Caraval and the sequel, Legendary!! Both books are incredibly magical so prepare for a really enchanted post. I’m so excited!!

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a copy of Legendary in exchange for a review! This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

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 Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval (Caraval, #1)Synopsis: 

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. This year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation to Carval finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. But 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. Nevertheless, she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. 

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Review

Caraval is the first book in a long time that has COMPLETELY swept me away with magic, romance and a beautiful world.

This book is like a little golden heart for me. It’s magical, cute, and romantic with beautiful, lush writing and it took my breath away.

Before blogging and the YA community, I just used to read; smol Little Ilsa in her little bed reading away without another thought in the world.  Now, as a reviewer, I can’t help but note on the character development, the writing, the plot. I am constantly thinking about what I need to write about in my review; what makes sense and what doesn’t. I always feel the need to take notes and save quotes. I can’t even read a book anymore without over-analysing it.

Everyone says they read for escapism but the thing is with my over-analysing brain and the stress of being a reviewer, I can’t really do that. It’s rare a book completely takes me away. Like actually into another land. It’s normally me checking the page numbers and shipping the wrong characters and I thought nothing could change how I read books.

Up until Caraval.

I had a gazillion problems with this book and I so get why people would hate it. I could pick up on the insta-love, the lack of world-building, the annoying character deaths, the messy plot twists, I won’t for the while because Caraval swept me into another land. I was turning the pages without realising and I could not put it down (I was reading throughout my Biology lesson because who cares about bacteria cells, honestly?) and I just loved everything.

Caraval was so magical.

I didn’t even realise how quickly I had read the book, and how entangled I was in the world. I was blown off my feet into an enticing, beautiful, and dangerous world and it was downright fabulous; it was rich and daring and twisty and it was perfect. 

This book made me remember WHY I LOVE BOOKS. Why I started book blogging in the first place. It was kind of like a portal into the past when I used to read books without any worry and that’s exactly what I hope every YA book would do.

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I was utterly transfixed by the book, the writing, the characters, the plot. It was just so sticky, so easy to get lost in the pages and the story. Being inside Scarlett’s head is scary because she isn’t sure of anything and she jumps to conclusions which just heightened the tension and suspense for me for me. It made me confused (in a good way), flustered and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. 

I love mysteries and this one didn’t fail to surprise me. As soon as you thought you knew what was coming…OH NO YOU DON’T because that’s not the truth, THIS IS. And it had so many twists and turns and spirals and different directions and it was lavishly amazing and downright fun.

It was so much fun.

Never have I read a book that is so unique and magical and enchanting and all the other words for magic because that’s what this book is; a piece of magic all wrapped up and I will say without a shadow of a doubt, I loved it.

Yes, there was insta-love, but it was so IN THEME of Caraval, I didn’t mind. Also, time is weird in Caraval so I have an excuse to squish the heck out of this ship.

I also really loved the sister relationship between Scarlett and Tella, it was amazing and great to see in a YA fantasy! A lot of the time we are TOLD how much Scarlett cares for Tella but we don’t really see that in action until the end so that was a slight negative for me.

THE PLOT TWISTS WERE AMAZING HOLY COOKIES, I AM BLOWN AWAY. I was shocked SO MANY TIMES and Garber is a literal GENIUS for weaving such an amazing story!! I will say there are some messy character deaths and suicide in here so do be aware of that.

Honestly, this book has a place in that little heart of mine and while there were so many issues, I loved it. The magical game, the clues, not knowing whats coming next, not knowing who to trust, the smells, the vivid descriptions, the awesome characters, the twists that came out of nowhere and that sneaky cliffhanger at the end.

ALL IN ALL: I love Caraval by Stephanie Garber. That is all.

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Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Before I start this review, If you haven’t read Caraval then the synopsis and the review for this will spoil for book one. No spoilers for Legendary but spoilers for Caraval, book 1. So if you plan on reading Caraval, don’t read this review and skip to the comments!?

Legendary (Caraval, #2)

 Synopsis: 

Tella has made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name. The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

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Review:

Legendary was so much fun, incredibly dark and SO ACTION-PACKED, I nearly fell off my seat.

AHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. *eternal screaming* Legendary was amazing. I don’t even know how to review this book; It was somehow 1000 times better than Caraval and literally so close to perfection!! I AM IN LOVE. WITH THIS BOOK.

This book is a lot darker than the first one mostly because it manages to be a mystery, adventure and romance all in one beautiful book and I absolutely adored it.

Let’s talk about wild, amazing and intelligent Tella Dragna. Oh gosh. OH GOSH. I admit! I was NOT a fan of Scarlett from Caraval BUT TELLA?! A whole different story. She likes to wear dresses and kiss anyone she likes but it doesn’t define her personality; she’s smart, strong and fierce at the same time as being pretty and wearing wonderful dresses.

Tella is sassy and amazing, she doesn’t care what people think, and she goes out into the world being so brave. She’s such a Slytherin and honestly more girl Slytherins in books please, there are so few. I WANT CHARACTERS THAT APPLY LIPSTICK WHILE ALSO PLOTTING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD PLEASE.

“Tella might have been many things, but she was far from silly or worthless or whatever labels people liked to affix because a person was young and female. Tella liked to think that was where much of her strength came from. She was bold. She was brave. She was cunning. And she was going to come out of this triumphant – no matter the cost.”

I do want to praise how AMAZING the sister relationship is in this…but I feel like this is the only weakness of this book…the sister relationship is so boring. I want to SEE two sisters loving and caring about each other, I want to see that messy sibling relationship, where you fight over the smallest things but make up 2 seconds later and how you annoy each other but also would die for each other.

There was such an opportunity for this, however, we are constantly told “TELLA LOVES SCARLETT!!” and we never get to see it on the page. Sure, she’s concerned about Scarlett for about one page and whenever it’s convenient but it’s not a sibling relationship I enjoyed reading about, unfortunately.

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The stakes are SO INCREDIBLY HIGH, I was on the edge of my freaking seat. There’s so much going on with the beautiful and dangerous game of Caraval happening all over again; Tella is trying so hard not to get swept up in the game and remember that it’s not real – or is it? She is told that this game is different to the others – so which to believe? I LOVE BOOKS THAT PLAY MIND GAMES WITH YOU because I was confused and puzzled in the best possible way.

And as well as this there are these “fates” trying to escape from cards and loads of other exciting history and mystery going on here. Tella is constantly putting herself in danger, trying to find out more about her mother and these fates and how they are connected. I LOVED IT.

AND THEN THERE IS THE QUESTION OF WHO IS LEGEND?! We shall never know. JUST KIDDING!! There was a REVEAL in this and I admit I’m a tiny bit disappointed in who it was and how it was revealed. SO MUCH SUSPENSE FOR WHO IT WAS and I ended up being a bit “meh” about the whole identity soooo that was a bit of a bummer.

BUT OH GOSH THE ROMANCE BETWEEN TELLA AND DANTE IS BEAUTIFUL. swoon-worthy. enchanting. magical. Dante and Tella are both playing Caraval so ha! Is their love real? Is this just a game? WHO KNOWS!! I love their dynamic, I love every single interaction between them and both characters just compliment each other so well. THIS SHIP IS SOMETHING I WILL ALWAYS GO DOWN WITH. Ahem, Jacks though. The poor little guy ❤

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OHHHHH THE WRITING IS SO DELICIOUS I COULD EAT IT. I love every single word, it makes the book just so beautiful and magical. And it’s such a vibrant but also dark book and I LOVE IT FOR THAT. I never got bored of how beautiful the writing in here is and I just love how this story is so seamlessly woven together. I was SO immersed in this story I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. I read it one sitting which goes to say something because this is a huge book.


In conclusion, THIS BOOK IS SOOO ADDICTIVE AND TWISTY AND I FELL IN LOVE LIKE FIVE TIMES. This is exactly how I like my fantasies, dark and mysterious and stabby and Legendary DELIVERED. Also, someone please give me the third book please; I NEED IT. *gasps*

Let's Whisper

So that’s both my reviews! I hope you enjoyed both or at least one of them. Have you read Caraval and/or Legendary? Tell me what you think of the  Have you ever read a book that reminds why you love reading? What author that you know writes really magically? I would love some recommendations! Chat with me in the comments!!

Ilsa - Edited

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69 thoughts on “Caraval and Legendary by Stephanie Garber // Are they worth the hype?!”

  1. Oh my god. Everything you said in this double review- I could relate 101% to it. I totally agree with you!! I read Caraval last year, a month after it came out and it is part if my all time favs now (also reread it this year lmao). And Legendary… I read it right after it came out and was so hyped for it. I wanted to know who Legend is and well- that was kind of what I expected but also not?!?! Still, I like Caraval better than Legendary. (Also did a review for both of them) Reading your review was so enjoyable! I am glad you liked them as much as I did so let’s wait for the Finale now 🙂 xx

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  2. I love this review hahah! I read Caraval last year because of twitter’s prompting. I did a poll about what I should read next and Caraval won. I was scared to start it because of all the hype, but when I started I couldn’t put it down. It is literally such an emotional roller coaster. I’m so glad you felt a lot of the same things I did.

    Also, glad to see you fell in love with Legendary, too. I still haven’t read it, but I desperately need to.

    Wonderful review!
    – Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

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  3. I really liked Caraval as well! I started Legendary a while back but I couldn’t continue because of finals and so I haven’t even picked it up again yet 😅

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  4. I loved Caraval so much! I actually wasn’t as much of a fan of Legendary when I first started, but it grew on me and I ended up really liking it. These books are so worth the hype despite some of the things you mentioned in your reviews. The writing in both is just so amazing that I would forgive almost anything. Great review 🙂

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  5. Both of these books are absolutely fantastic!! I liked Legendary a lot more than Caraval – it was so much more engaging and dark and just better imo. Scarlet bugged me, so I liked Tella a lot better. ALSO DANTE IS LITERALLY THE BEST. All in all, both of these books are amazing, and I can’t wait for Finale!!! Awesome review, Ilsa! 🙂

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  6. Wow, saying that a book reminded you of why you love reading, is such high praise. I’m SO glad you enjoyed Caraval so much 😍 I was a bit disappointed by it , to be honest – I still loved it, but I think my expectations were a bit too high because of all the hype surrounding it, at the time I read it. STILL it was a very good read and I am very curious to read Legendary, just to see what happens next and to see Tella as a main character as well 😀

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  7. Well when I read Caraval, I enjoyed it and flied through it. But then time passed and I realized it wasn’t as good as I thought it was. I’m going to try to give it a reread to form my actual thoughts. But I’m curious about Legendary. I actually did not like Tella in Caraval so I’m interested to see if my opinion will change.

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  8. Yess, I love these books too! I’m glad you enjoy them as much as I do!
    I completely agree that Caraval can sweep you away, the writing and descriptions are so so amazing!

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  9. *appears to scream* YESSS. YES TO ALL THE LOVE FOR THIS SERIES. I’M STILL FULLY AND UTTERLY OBSESSED. 😍😍 I think it’s the magical writing that totally gets me?! It’s so lush and vivid and I feel like I’m totally IN the book! I also actually loved the reveal of Legend and I was so glad it was who it ended up being. 😂Also Tella’s Slytherin’ness was 100% the best and I accidentally love her way more than Scarlett.😂

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    1. IT WAS SO GOOD CAIT I DONT THINK EITHER O US WILL EVER GET OVER THE MASTERPIECE THAT WAS LEGENDARY!! and yes the writing is literally SO BEAUTIFUL, everytime i get so CAUGHT up in it! I’m glad you like Legend’s reveal!! I just feel like I have A REALLY high expectations. AND OMG TELLA I LOVE HER SO MUCH

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  10. NO THEY ARE NOT WORTH THE HYPE.

    jk i’ve only read caraval and it just wasn’t for me but i see the appeal lmao. great review(s)!!!!

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  11. *hides because I haven’t heard of Caraval until about 4 minutes ago when I saw this post*

    BUT AMAZING REVIEW! If you hoped to convince me to read this, then you 1000% did. 😉 It sounds so appealing and I love that it was able to be such a magical read for you. That’s kind of how Harry Potter is for me, I don’t even notice everything that’s probably wrong with it, I just let the amazing story wash over me. XD I WANT TO READ THIS BADLY NOW, THANK YOU SO MUCH ILSA ❤️

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  12. To me, Caraval seems like another one of those hate-it or love-it kind of books. When it first came out it was ALL anyone could talk about! Then a couple of months later the naysayers poked their heads out and went ‘Eeeeeh…it’s not actually that great.’ Funny how that seems to be happening more and more lately. I haven’t read it myself yet, and I’m not really sure why. The cover sure is gorgeous though!!

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    1. YESSS. Those hyped books that go through the stage of “OMG THIS IS AMAZING” to 2 months later “Oh this is crap”. I feel like then it’s just easier to have unpopular opinion of it!? But I toooootally get why people wou;dn’t like it! I’m so glad I loved it, that cover is BEAUTIFUL ❤

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  13. Ok I’ve just got to say it: *deep breath* I’ve read Caraval in the midst of the super hype when it came out ANNDDDDD I still didn’t like it. Upsss. I know I know I’M HORRIBLE AND THE WORST. Be my guest to bite my head off in the near future.
    BUT I must say that your excitement for the books is contagious. I’M HAPPY YOU’RE HAPPY!!! If that makes sense?? Aghh I know what it’s like to just go a bit too far into obsessing over page numbers when reading (THEY HUNT ME I SWEAR) so I’m glad you found a smol book that made you escape form all that.

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  14. Great review!! You’ve made me so excited for these books!! I still haven’t read either of these books but I can’t wait to!! They sound SO GOOOOD. AGHHSGDH

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  15. OMG both these books sound SO SO AMAZINGLY GOOD, Ilsa!!
    I’m honestly just adding them to my TBR list right now!
    And I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! (I had no idea Book blogging could be so stressful. Your reviews are always amazing!!)
    I love the fact that there’s a sister relationship in there too, it’s always so much fun to read books with sisters who actually like each other!
    I’m already sure that I’m going to LOVE it! 😊❤️
    P.S-I’m SO happy to be able to read more of your fab book reviews!! I’ve really missed commenting on your blog and I’m really sorry that I wasn’t able to be more active on your blog.😭😭

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  16. i remember reading caraval more than a year ago, so alot of it’s elements are lost on me rn. but yes, i remember it being such an action packed, twisty, dark, magical and eerie book. i loved it! pretty sure i finished it in a day or two! this review has reminded me to pick it up again!

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  17. I loved Caraval as well. I haven’t had the chance to read Legendary yet (I’m in 13th place in the hold line at our library and I’m pretty sure they only have 1 or 2 copies) but I can’t wait to read it.

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  18. I just read Caraval (I was a bit slow entering the party on that one too), and thought it was only alright. But I’m interested in reading the sequel, since I NEED TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LEGEND. Thank you for these two wonderfully written reviews, Ilsa!

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