Finale: Caraval, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Finale: Caraval, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Romance ending satisfies; fantasy world goes flat.

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Magic involving blood cures, poisons, stealing of memories and draining of life force, enchanted tarot cards. All can be traced to other magical fantasies in various ways. Also, the revering of many vengeful gods called Fates, which mixes ideas from Greek mythology with tarot cards.

Positive Messages

Shows differences between love and possession/obsession and why holding out for real love is worth it. Also, experiencing pain and loss in life has value -- blocking it out instead deadens us to a fuller life in the long term. A reminder that we can still have compassion for those who disappoint us.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sisters Tella and Scarlett both have heroic roles to play. Tella is usually strong but sometimes led astray by temptation to forget about her loss. She refuses to compromise herself for her suitor, who will only give so much of himself to her, yet she does put up with some of the suitor's overly possessive behavior. Scarlett is brave, resilient, literally and figuratively finds her own power and wields it to save others.


Mortals die by stabbing (the main characters' mother), burning, slit throat, snapped neck. Immortals are temporarily killed off by stabbing and a slit throat. Mortals are also tortured, turned to stone, poisoned. One woman has stitches on hands after fingers were removed. Mentions of churches burned, council members killed, their heads displayed on spikes. Blood drawn and drunk to exchange power.


Plenty of passionate kisses with one couple falling asleep entwined. A scene of strip poker (in its early stages), some bawdy jokes.


"Bastard" and "damn" used sparingly.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult drinks wine. Mentions of wine, spilled wine, and liquor bottles strewn about, but underage main characters aren't drinking in this one.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Finale is the third book in Stephanie Garber's magical Caraval series. The main characters -- teen sisters Tella and Scarlett -- experience their mother's death at the beginning of the story. Others die by burning, slit throats, and a snapped neck. Immortals are temporarily killed off by stabbing and a slit throat. Mortals are also tortured, turned to stone, and poisoned. One woman has stitches on her hands after her fingers were removed as a form of torture. Like the first two books in the series, Caraval and Legendary, there are a lot of passionate kisses here. This time, though, the wine drinking is only by adults. Tella and Scarlett both have heroic roles to play in the story. Scarlett especially learns how to wield her power to save others.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written by_katielynn May 15, 2019

Great book!!

There are about 4 kissing scenes that are described almost to detail, but it is in the end just that, kissing. I am personally the kind of being who likes roman... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byGlasses_Girl February 15, 2021

A Conclusion to Tella & Scarlett's Story

I love Scarlett because she's practically me! She's responsible and sensible and not a daredevil in the least. So I was disappointed when there were c... Continue reading

What's the story?

In FINALE, Tella is still reeling after Legend rescues her and then runs away and leaves her. He tries to make up for it by controlling her fantastical dreams every night, until one night he doesn't arrive. Tella is worried and begs her sister Scarlett to care for their comatose mother, Paloma, while she searches for Legend. She knows that later that afternoon Scarlett is off to meet the stranger she was once engaged to, and will return. She hadn't planned on following Legend through another portal and arrives home late to find Paloma alone, but finally awake. Before Tella can even get her mother fed, Paloma runs off, and Tella tails her through the city to a rendezvous with the worst Fate (magical immortal being) of all, the Fallen Star. Tella is in shock as she watches her mother kiss him, and then stab him before the Fallen Star stabs her. Tella vows her revenge, but it proves harder than she expected, especially when the Fallen Star kidnaps her sister.

Is it any good?

Romance buffs will have the grand, sweep-y, star-crossed-lovers ending they're looking for, while fantasy fans will walk away feeling jilted by the storytelling. Both sisters, Tella and Scarlett, have their huge obstacles to love: kidnapping, temporary death, other possessive suitors, and the whole kingdom falling down around them, to name a few. Oh, and Leg/book-reviews/caravalend, as an immortal, actually cannot love. That's a big one, repeated almost like a mantra to the reader. How can it ever work out between Tella and Legend? It's a nail-biter until the end. Live it up, romance fans.

Fantasy fans will notice some big cracks in the foundation, however. Author Stephanie Garber, writing her first series, has some great supernatural baddie characters but has no idea how to introduce them. We're just told how bad they are and how they're tied to the main bad guy with the least effective bad guy name, the Fallen Star. When (better-named) Poisoner strikes for the first time, readers should see it happen, not see his victims after and just hear rumors. The Assassin should get a really flashy intro as well, just because he's called the Assassin. Come on. The magical objects are also poorly introduced, and their secrets feel more like an afterthought than a revelation. A magical map that talks should always be presented with flair (see the Wesley twins in Harry Potter). Jacks just hands it over almost apologetically. Also, if you spend chapters and energy attaining a magic object -- in this case, a book -- and say you're using it to defeat the bad guy, actually use it to defeat the bad guy, or don't include it at all. It'd be better to skip back to the romance, since that seems to be working better for Finale anyway.   

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the love stories in Finale. Which is more compelling? How does Tella distinguish between real love and possessiveness or obsession? What problems can arise in a possessive relationship?

  • Why does Tella accept Jacks' offer to remove her pain when she loses her mother? Why does she regret it later?

  • Finale may be the finale, but can you imagine a spin-off series? What characters would you like to see in it?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy and romance

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