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14 Books like Caraval

Books like Caraval

Remember the heart-pounding thrill of Caraval? The dazzling illusions, the impossible games, the constant question of what was real and what was a trick?

If you, like me, loved that series and are still craving stories that leave you breathless, buckle up! 

I’ve compiled a list of books that capture the same enchanting spirit as Caraval, ready to transport you to worlds of wonder and keep you guessing until the very last page. 

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Books like Caraval

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus” is a captivating novel set in a magical competition between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who are unknowingly bound to a lifelong challenge against each other. The circus serves as the arena for their competition, where they craft enchanting experiences for the visitors, unknowingly falling in love with each other.

Morgenstern’s storytelling weaves a beautiful tapestry of love, mystery, and magic, set against the backdrop of an ethereal circus that appears without warning and leaves audiences spellbound.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “Caraval,” “The Night Circus” is built around a mysterious, magical game with high stakes, and a setting that is as much a character as the people themselves. 

Both novels immerse readers in stunningly imaginative worlds where the boundaries between reality and illusion blur, emphasizing themes of love, sacrifice, and destiny. The intricate plots and the romantic elements between the characters in both stories draw readers into their magical, uncertain worlds.

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

“Daughter of Smoke and Bone” follows Karou, a young art student in Prague, who leads a double life as an errand-girl to a monstrous creature named Brimstone. 

Her quest for answers about her own mysterious origins leads her across the globe and into a bitter war between angels and demons. Taylor’s novel is a masterful blend of urban fantasy and mythology, featuring a richly constructed world filled with intrigue, magic, and star-crossed love.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Caraval,” this novel features a strong, relatable heroine embarking on a journey filled with mystery, magic, and a hint of romance. 

Both narratives are steeped in a deep sense of mystery and feature worlds where magic plays a crucial role in the plot and character development. The intricate world-building and the theme of self-discovery in both books will appeal to fans looking for another immersive, fantastical experience.

3. Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

“Wicked Saints” introduces a world embroiled in a centuries-long war between countries, fueled by gods and their magic. 

It follows Nadya, a cleric who can communicate with all the gods, as she teams up with a prince and a blood mage to assassinate the king and end the war. The novel is a dark, gothic fantasy that explores themes of faith, power, and betrayal, with a complex, morally gray cast of characters.

Major Similarities: 

“Wicked Saints” shares “Caraval’s” love for intricate plots and the element of magic that is central to the conflict. Both books involve young protagonists who must navigate a dangerous world filled with deception and hidden agendas. 

The dark, atmospheric settings and the blend of romance and fantasy in both novels make them appealing to readers who enjoyed the combination of mystery, magic, and young love in “Caraval.”

4. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone” is the first book in the Grisha Trilogy, set in the fantastical world of Ravka, which is divided by a swath of darkness called the Shadow Fold, home to monstrous creatures. 

The story centers on Alina Starkov, a soldier who discovers she possesses a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. 

Bardugo weaves a captivating tale of power, identity, and dark magic, as Alina navigates the treacherous waters of the royal court and her own heart.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “Caraval,” “Shadow and Bone” features a strong female protagonist thrust into a dangerous and magical world, where she must discover her own power and navigate complex relationships. Both novels are set in richly detailed, fantastical worlds with a unique system of magic. 

The themes of self-discovery, the exploration of light versus darkness, and the romantic elements present in both stories will resonate with readers of “Caraval.”

5. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

“A Darker Shade of Magic” features Kell, one of the last Antari—magicians with the rare ability to travel between parallel Londons: Red, Grey, White, and the forbidden Black London. 

He serves the Red London monarchy as an ambassador, smuggling items between the worlds until he stumbles upon a dangerous artifact from Black London. The book blends adventure, dark magic, and betrayal as Kell teams up with Lila Bard, a cunning thief, to save all the worlds.

Major Similarities: 

Both “A Darker Shade of Magic” and “Caraval” present readers with intricately built, magical worlds that are both vibrant and dangerous. The novels share themes of adventure, the exploration of magical abilities, and the blurred lines between good and evil. 

Schwab’s and Garber’s works alike captivate with their detailed world-building, complex characters, and a plot that keeps readers guessing until the end.

6. The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

“The Crown’s Game” is set in Imperial Russia, where two enchanters, Vika and Nikolai, are forced into a duel to become the Tsar’s Imperial Enchanter. 

This deadly contest of magical skill is laced with intrigue, romance, and betrayal, as both competitors battle not only for their lives but for their heart’s desires. Skye’s novel is a rich tapestry of historical fantasy, blending real-world history with magical elements in a setting that’s as lavish as it is brutal.

Major Similarities: 

Much like “Caraval,” “The Crown’s Game” centers around a high-stakes competition with magical elements at its core. Both stories feature a vibrant, yet dangerous setting where the characters must use their wits and magical abilities to survive. 

The element of romance, coupled with the struggle between personal desire and duty, mirrors the thematic and emotional depth found in “Caraval.”

7. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

“An Enchantment of Ravens” features Isobel, a talented portrait artist who paints the immortal Fair Folk. 

But when she paints human sorrow in the eyes of Rook, the autumn prince, she is whisked away into the faerie courts to stand trial for her mistake. This journey into the enchanting and perilous world of the Fair Folk is filled with danger, romance, and magic, challenging everything Isobel thought she knew about faeries and herself.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Caraval,” this novel is imbued with a sense of enchantment and danger, set against the backdrop of a beautifully detailed and dangerous magical world. 

The strong, artistic female protagonist, the themes of love and sacrifice, and the journey that blends adventure with self-discovery closely align with the experiences of Scarlett in “Caraval.” Both books captivate with their vivid world-building and the exploration of the costs of magic and love.

8. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

“Strange the Dreamer” introduces Lazlo Strange, a war orphan and librarian obsessed with the lost city of Weep, which has been cut off from the world for two hundred years. 

When a chance to visit the city presents itself, Lazlo embarks on a journey that reveals the city’s tragic mysteries. Taylor’s lush prose and imaginative storytelling create a dream-like tale of adventure, love, and the haunting aftermath of lost dreams.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “Caraval,” “Strange the Dreamer” is a story about the power of dreams and the magic of belief. Both novels are characterized by their stunningly imaginative settings, complex characters, and themes that explore the intersection of reality and fantasy. 

The emotional depth, coupled with the mystery and the exploration of ancient magic, provides a similar reading experience that fans of “Caraval” will enjoy.

9. The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

“The Hazel Wood” follows Alice, whose grandmother is the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of dark fairy tales. When her mother is abducted by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set, Alice’s search leads her to the Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s estate. 

This dark and twisty novel blends elements of fantasy and horror, as Alice uncovers her family’s mysterious past and her connection to the Hinterland.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Caraval,” “The Hazel Wood” delves into a dark, fantastical world that blurs the line between fiction and reality. Both novels feature strong female protagonists on a quest to uncover family secrets within a world where stories and reality intertwine. 

The atmospheric settings, the element of mystery, and the dark twists throughout the story will appeal to readers looking for books similar to “Caraval.”

10. Furyborn by Claire Legrand

“Furyborn” follows two fiercely independent young women, Rielle and Eliana, living centuries apart but connected by a series of prophecies. Rielle must undergo seven magical trials to prove she is the prophesied Sun Queen, while Eliana, a bounty hunter in a future world, seeks her missing mother, unknowingly moving closer to her own destiny. 

This epic fantasy novel weaves together elements of magic, rebellion, and destiny across timelines, creating a complex and compelling narrative.

Major Similarities: 

“Furyborn” and “Caraval” share a narrative driven by strong female characters facing trials that test their strength, resolve, and magical abilities. Both books are set in richly imagined worlds filled with danger, intrigue, and supernatural elements. 

The themes of destiny, power, and the intertwining of fates across time offer a similar blend of fantasy and adventure that fans of “Caraval” will find engaging.

11. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

“To Kill a Kingdom” is a dark fantasy retelling of “The Little Mermaid” with a twist. Princess Lira is a siren renowned for her ruthlessness, taking the hearts of princes each year on her birthday. Prince Elian is a siren hunter and heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. 

When a twist of fate transforms Lira into a human, she must bring Elian, the siren hunter, the heart of a siren as redemption. Their paths cross in a deadly dance of intrigue, as they navigate the dangers of their worlds and their growing feelings for each other.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “Caraval,” “To Kill a Kingdom” features a captivating blend of fantasy, romance, and adventure, set in a beautifully dangerous world. Both novels explore themes of identity, transformation, and the power of choice against a backdrop of magical stakes. 

The strong, morally complex characters and the elements of dark fantasy and forbidden love will appeal to readers who enjoyed the intricate storytelling and emotional depth of “Caraval.”

12. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

“The Bone Season” introduces a dystopian future where clairvoyants are hunted by a totalitarian government. Paige Mahoney, a powerful dreamwalker, is captured and taken to Oxford, a secret city controlled by a mysterious race of beings. 

The novel explores themes of survival, rebellion, and the fight for freedom as Paige navigates the complex hierarchy of her captors and allies with others to regain her freedom. Shannon crafts a world that’s richly detailed and fraught with intrigue and magic.

Major Similarities: 

Both “The Bone Season” and “Caraval” immerse readers in a unique blend of fantasy and mystery, with a strong female protagonist who discovers her own strength and power in a hostile world. 

The complex magical systems, the high stakes of the protagonists’ journeys, and the blend of dark and fantastical elements make “The Bone Season” resonate with fans of “Caraval” looking for another immersive, magical adventure.

13. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

“Serpent & Dove” is a tale of witchcraft, conflict, and forbidden love, set in a world where witches are hunted by the Church. Lou, a witch hiding in plain sight, and Reid, a witch hunter bound by his holy duty, are forced into an impossible marriage. 

As they navigate the treacherous waters of their relationship, they uncover deadly secrets that could destroy everything they hold dear. Mahurin combines magic, romance, and intrigue in a story about choices, survival, and the complexities of love and loyalty.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Caraval,” “Serpent & Dove” features a magical competition of sorts, but with higher stakes involving societal norms and survival. The forbidden romance, the blend of fantasy and intrigue, and the strong, determined protagonists mirror the themes and tone of “Caraval.” 

Both novels offer a thrilling ride through a world where magic is both a gift and a curse, and where love can be both salvation and doom.

14. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows” is set in the gritty, bustling city of Ketterdam, where criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. 

Together with a crew of outcasts, Kaz must break into an impenetrable fortress and retrieve a hostage who could unleash magical havoc on the world. Bardugo crafts a tale of heist and fantasy, filled with sharp wit, intricate plotting, and deep character development.

Major Similarities: 

“Six of Crows” and “Caraval” share a love for complex characters and morally grey areas, set against the backdrop of a richly imagined world. The element of a high-stakes game, albeit a criminal heist in “Six of Crows,” parallels the magical competition in “Caraval.” 

Both books are driven by strong narratives that explore themes of ambition, power, and the lengths to which characters will go for what they desire. The dynamic character interactions and the blend of magic and mystery will appeal to readers who enjoyed the suspenseful, engaging storytelling of “Caraval.”

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