Fantasy Mini Reviews: Caraval by Stephanie Garber + The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

I’m starting to understand the popularity of mini-reviews because they’re so fun and are less stressful to write than full discussions. ✏ Today, I’m back with two fantasy books that I actually listened to via audiobook!


27883214When I first read the preview of this book, I was instantly enticed by the storyline—a magical game that blurs what is real. ✨ The story is filled with colorful writing and twists at every turn. I truly thought this book had a lot of potential but it felt extremely underdeveloped. I still plan on reading the sequel, Legendary, but I didn’t understand the hype of this first one. 🤷‍♀️

Spoiler-free Summary: Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

For a book that never stops describing emotions, characters, and day-to-day tasks in color, the world building and character development felt dull and grey. 😕 The romance between Scarlett and Julian threw me for a loop because he was originally introduced as a potential love interest for Tella.

I would give this book 2/5 stars. ⭐⭐ The book was riddled with the overuse of unnecessary, flowery language that hindered the storyline development. At the same time, this book took an interesting twist on a mysterious game. If you’re interested in the audiobook, I would definitely recommend because the narrator is the same narrator for The Lunar Chronicles series who always does an A+ job! caraval-stephanie-garber-feature

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26032825This book has a lot of mixed reviews in the bookish community where some people are absolutely in love with Jude and Cardan and others are confused by its hype. 🤷‍♀️ I’m somewhere in the middle where I did enjoy some aspects of the book, but I also don’t worship its entirety. Similar to my feelings with Caraval, I thought this book had a lot of potential but the lack of development hindered it from being an all-star book.

Spoiler-free Summary: Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

I was instantly intrigued by the concepts of the world and the wickedness of the characters. 👑 However, I don’t think the writing successfully explained the points the author was trying to get across. For example, I took the romance between Jude and Cardan at face value because we were told about it, but I wasn’t invested in it because it wasn’t really developed.

The Cruel Prince gets 3/5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐ I am still planning to read the sequel because I’m hoping that the series will improve, but overall, I thought this book was simply an okay read. ☁

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If you purchase the paperback or hardback version from Book Depository, I make a small commission which helps keeps my blog running. 🛍️ They have free shipping worldwide, so talk about a win-win solution!


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12 thoughts on “Fantasy Mini Reviews: Caraval by Stephanie Garber + The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

  1. Great reviews! I love doing mini reviews too. I feel the same way about The Cruel Prince. I’m in between loving and disliking the relationship between Jude and Cardan. But I am excited to read The Wicked King.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! You should definitely try out doing mini reviews 🙂 It’s been such a great way to knock out some of the reviews I need to get done but I struggle with writing full length reviews for them. I think I just need to see more romance develop between Jude and Cardan, so hopefully, we’ll get that in The Wicked King!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel like writing mini reviews are so much easier. Especially when there just isn’t much to say. I can say a lot though when I have a lot of issues with the book, ahah. More romance is so very needed in the next book!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I felt very underwhelmed by both of these as wells! Overall I gave Caraval 3 stars, and the Cruel Prince 3.5 stars. I did however, just finish the sequel to Caraval, Legendary, and it is honestly one of my favorite reads of the year. It’s significantly better than its predecessor, and I adore every bit of it! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, I keep seeing this and it confuses me. Haha, as you said everyone is raving about it yet the people who I trust with book recommendation says these too. Always lovely to see the honesty in your reviews.

    Hope you’re doing great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Justine ❤ Just finished 2 exams this week, and now I'm finally able to respond to comments and hop around before 2 more exams next week 😱

      I definitely think these books had it's fun parts but they won't be my all time favorite reads. I'm glad I gave them a try, so I'd recommend reading it just to see what you think. but I also don't think they're the best that's out there~


  4. I have read them both. I read Caraval in about a day so I enjoyed it and I think I gave it 3 stars but I didn’t really get the hype and I didn’t like Tella so I’m not going to read book 2. The Cruel Prince in other hand was 4 stars book for me. I just fell in love with the world in page one. I didn’t understand the romance though. I don’t have any opinion about it at this point since Jude wasn’t an angel either and who knows if Black will write Cardan to have redemption arc.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy Caraval that much! It was one of my favorite reads of last year and Legendary completely blew me away so I hope you enjoy that more. I kind of agree with you on The Cruel Prince–I really loved Carden and Jude’s dynamic, but there were certain aspects of the story that fell flat for me, and I was hoping I would be sucked into the world more than I was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard Legendary is soo much better than Caraval, so I’m excited to read that (or listen to the audiobook) soon 🙂 I think I just got too caught up in the hype of The Cruel Prince, so I had super high expectations. Hopefully, the next book is better ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

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