Four Stars, Stephanie Garber

Daily Double

My local book club recently read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I was super excited about this pick because as sisters we had just finished reading Finale by Stephanie Garber. All three of us really enjoyed the whole Caraval series, and I had heard the two books were very similar. I must admit I found they were similar only so far as apples and oranges are both fruit. They’re both a little bit darker fantasy that revolve around a game, with excellent imagery and a romance thrown in, and that’s about it.


“It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.”

The Caraval Series is in the young adult genre, and is very much written as such. Which I have no problems with. If a novel is marketed as young adult, it should be written towards a young adult audience, which gives it a little bit different feel. It has all the elements a young adult novel should have, the battle between good and evil, the journey of the heroes, the transistion of someone becoming more than they were. Finale has all of these wrapped up in an exciting and unexpected story.

All three of us sisters loved that Finale was written from both Tella and Scarlet’s point of view. Stephanie Garber balanced the two perspectives very well, each sister’s voice was consistent and strong through their chapters.

There were a few surprises, and Stephanie has a beautiful way of showing and not just telling, she paints striking pictures with her words. The one element I had a hard time with was how much she used blood in this last novel. There had been glimpses of it in the other two, but it seemed a little overwhelmingly used in this one. Instead of an interesting twist in the story it became something that pulled me out and made me go, “weird”.

Stephanie Garber developed both love stories really well and left the readers delightfully satisfied at the end.

****low language, moderate violence, moderate romance



“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.”

The Night Circus is definitely written for a more mature audience. Not only are the elements more mature, but the writing as a whole is on a more philosophical level. Both books were written very well for their intended audiences, but The Night Circus is definitely an more intellectual read.

Erin Morgenstern also has an incredible way of showing and not just telling. I could not only see each new aspect of the circus, but I could smell it, and taste it; she constantly made me hungry. Her metaphors created this whimsical magical lightness that captivated the reader all while telling a rather dark and foreboding tale that is anything but. It is miraculously done.

I felt like Marcus’ confession of love kind of came out of the blue. I was surprised at the lack of relationship development. I was surprised to find the relationship development come after his confession. You slowly see all the things he’s done for her through the circus. Though the relationship was beautifully developed, it was interesting to see it done in almost a reverse.

Poppet and Widget were fantastic comic relief, they were possibly my favorite characters.

Though the book leaves you with a very satisfied ending, you’re also left with a lot of wonderings. Good books make you think and feel, and The Night Circus definitely does that.

****high language, moderate violence, high romance

A few Explanations: There was not a lot of language, but there were a few harsher words (that were not just historically inaccurate, but a little out of place). The overall book is not racy, but there is one scene that pushes the book into high instead of moderate romance.


Five Stars, Low Language, Moderate Romance, Moderate Violence, Stephanie Garber

Fate Is Only An Idea

The best plots give you just enough truth to fuel the adventure and keep just enough secrets to spark your imagination. Legendary by Stephanie Garber does both extremely well.

“A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. But Tella isn’t yet free. She 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…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.”

Stephanie has a fantastical way with words. The imagery is not only descriptive, but emotive as well. You can feel the darkness, the madness and the euphoria that comes with playing Caraval.

The story is more than darkness and madness though. It’s mostly about hope, and love. We’re not talking about chemistry or lust, though there’s a little of that too. We’re talking selfless love driven mostly by the Dragna sisters, and it’s expertly done.

Stephanie has created two sisters who couldn’t be more different in temperament, and purpose, yet more devoted. And you can feel it in Stephanie’s writing. The determined logcial voice of Scarlet and the flighty passionate voice of Tella come across as you are opened up to these characters and the world of Caraval; all it can give and all it can take.

Speaking of sisters, would you like to meet all three of us? As an added bonus, if you’ve read the book already, you can see our thoughts and theories below. Warning, there are spoilers, so if you haven’t read the book, do that first, then come back and see if you agree with us.

Confessions: We aren’t technological geniuses. Is the video the best quality?, not even close. Do we talk with our hands? Yes, too much. Just know we at least had fun doing our favorite thing, talking about books while being together!


Four Stars, Low Language, Low Religion, Low Romance, Low Violence, Stephanie Garber

Round and Round We Go

Are you a ‘read the ending because you just can’t wait to know how it ends’ type of reader? I am usually not. I always want to, but I remind myself each time to be patient. This book however, I am sad to say I read the ending. There are some books out there that after getting a little into them I cave and read the ending. This is usually because the writer has done a fantastic job of making me super invested in the characters and has woven a wonderfully suspenseful tale, that I just can’t wait. A part of me doesn’t want to keep being so incredibly invested if it doesn’t end the way I want. I know there are some of you that are appalled and want to push people like me down a hill. That’s OK, this time I will let you push away. I completely regret that I jumped to the end of this book. Stephanie Garber writes a story that keeps you guessing, Caraval.

“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 and her sister disappears forever.”

This is Stephanie’s debut Novel and I think she did a great job weaving a story and creating characters you become invested in. There were a few plot points that confused me. One of those was the father. It is explained in the book that he wasn’t always that  way, but I felt his character description was too vague and I wanted to know a little bit more. It is a series, The second one comes out in May and is called Legendary. I am hoping that some of my questions I had that didn’t get answered in Caraval will be answered in Legendary.

I really love books like this. I Love being thrown for a loop, well as long the loop ends well. Having read the ending before I finished the book I’m not sure how much of the twists and turns I would have figured out on my own. Even reading the ending there were a few things Stephanie threw at me that I didn’t see coming or hadn’t figured out. So, do your self a favor and enjoy all the delightful surprises in this book and don’t read the ending. I’m talking to you sis. –M.V.