“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself to magic in this world.”
Let’s face it: most of us would love to be swept out of our humdrum daily existence into a world of magic, adventure, and–ahem–steamy romance. This is why we read stories. When we submerge ourselves into alternate worlds where anything is possible and heroes reign, we begin to feel that maybe we are heroes. Maybe we can overcome anything. And maybe, just maybe, magic is real.
Just as Scarlett returned home changed after Caraval, so too do we carry some of that magic with us when we return to our regular lives. Such is the power of fantasy.
If you lost yourself in Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and don’t want to come back to the Real World just yet, then here are 20 more books to keep the magic going.
Best YA Fantasy & Romance Books Like Caraval
The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz
Shadow has always wanted to become the Queen’s Assassin, even though she’s expected to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts and become a lady of the Renovian Court. Caledon, the current Queen’s Assassin, is tied to a blood oath he’s desperate to escape–deadly assassin is a role he never wanted.
When Shadow and Cal’s paths cross, they must become assassin and apprentice. With each trying to find their own destiny, war threatens to pull them apart–even as their hearts bind them together. Find The Queen’s Assassin here.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Seventeen-year-old Mare Barrow is a Red, a lower-class citizen living in poverty and forced to steal to survive. When Mare ends up as a servant for the king and accidentally reveals she has the power of telekinesis–an ability only the elite Silver bloods are supposed to possess–the king hides her identity and promises her to one of his sons.
Before she knows it, Mare is submerged in Silver drama and a growing Red rebellion–and finds herself in the middle of a political love triangle. Find Red Queen here.
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Sixteen-year-old Shahrzad never imagined she’d find herself falling in love with the royal Caliph of Khorasan. After all, the only reason she agreed to marry him was to avenge the murder of her best friend–and countless other young women.
But when Shahrzad volunteers to marry the 18-year-old Caliph–a boy who finds a new bride each morning and executes her before dawn–she begins to realize there is more to this dark ritual than anyone knows. With her heart pulling her ever further along, Shahrzad must learn the truth and stop this terrible cycle once and for all. Find The Wrath and the Dawn here.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
When Jude and her two sisters were young, their parents were murdered and they were taken into the land of Faerie. As mortal humans, they are looked down upon by the fey, and the evil Prince Cardan–the youngest of the king’s sons–torments them more than anyone.
Now seventeen, Jude desperately wants to be a knight in the Faerie High Court–hoping this will keep her and her sisters safe from the prince. When the King of Faerie announces that he will choose one of his children to succeed him, Jude thrusts herself into a dangerous political battle–and thrilling secret romance–that follows. Find The Cruel Prince here.
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
A delicious origin story for the villainous Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Heartless takes us back to when the Queen was just a teenaged Catherine Pinkerton, a noble girl who wants only to open a bakery with her best friend Mary Ann.
So when the King of Hearts singles Cath out as his future wife, her parents are delighted–and she is horrified. To further complicate things, Cath meets and immediately falls for Jest–the handsome court joker. Cath does everything she can to control her own destiny and live the life she wants, but it may not be enough in the complicated, magical world she inhabits. Find Heartless here.
Did the allure and mystery of the stage in Caraval suck you in? Then these are for you:
The Selection by Kiera Cass
In a futuristic version of the United States, people are divided into castes, with Eights being the poorest of the poor at the bottom, and Ones being the royal ruling class.
America Singer, a Five, is madly in love with Aspen, a Six, and life in the middle seems like it will be okay if only they are able to be together. When America is chosen as a contestant for the Selection–a televised ceremony where Prince Maxon will choose his future wife–everything she thought she wanted suddenly shifts. Find The Selection here.
Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
Showgirl Kallia is a mesmerizing performer at the Hellfire House, a club run by her mentor, Jack. When she hears about the Conquering Circus and their contest for magicians, Kallia’s dreams of a bigger life on stage call to her and she runs away to join the competition.
Even as Kallia’s talents impress audiences and enchant the judges, she worries that Jack will chase her down and steal her dreams away. And when horrible things begin to happen to her competitors, a dark and enigmatic mystery begins to unfold. Find Where Dreams Descend here.
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
In the enchanting world of Orleans, the Belles–born beautiful–have the power to grant beauty to others. And in a world where everyone else is born red-eyed and gray-skinned, this power elevates Belles above all others.
When, in a twist of fate, Camellia is chosen by the Queen of Orleans as the new royal favorite, she believes her dreams have come true. When Camellia uncovers the dark truths–and forbidden romances–that lurk behind the palace walls, however, she begins questioning herself, her magic, and her purpose. Find The Belles here.
Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Ever since the prince found Cinderella at the Annual Ball in Lille, the tradition has continued. Now though, 200 years later, the light-hearted romance that started it all is long gone. Young women who wish to marry must put on an elaborate display of their riches and talents in order to be selected by a member of royalty–and those not chosen simply disappear.
When sixteen-year-old Sophia desperately flees the ball, she meets Constance, the last descendant of Cinderella, and begins uncovering the secrets behind the real Cinderella story–and all the reasons why the king must be brought down. Find Cinderella is Dead here.
If Scarlett leaving her world and entering a new one kept you turning pages, you’ll love these:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass
Nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre Archeron hates faeries, just like any other human. After all, humans were once enslaved by faerie overlords, and centuries later still live in the shadow of that hateful past.
So when Feyre is taken prisoner by the wolf Fae Tamlin as retribution for killing one of his kind, she desperately wants to escape back to her family. As Feyre spends more time in Prythian, however, she begins to uncover her misconceptions about the Fae–and develop feelings for Tamlin. Before she knows it, Feyre finds herself pulled directly into the conflict brewing in Tamlin’s land. Find A Court of Thorns and Roses here.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
This YA retelling of Beauty and the Beast features Harper, a teenage girl with cerebral palsy who is desperately trying to hold her life together. While attempting a good deed on the streets of Washington DC where she lives, Harper is abducted and taken to Emberfall, a magical kingdom inhabited by Prince Rhen.
The prince has been cursed by an enchantress to repeat his 18th year forever, at the end of which he becomes a vicious beast–and if Harper falls in love with Prince Rhen, she can save him from becoming a beast forever. As Harper navigates her new reality in this enchanted land, she learns that there is much more at stake than her heart, a prince, and his castle. Find A Curse so Dark and Lovely here.
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Years after Dorothy’s adventures in Oz, Kansas high-school student Amy Gumm finds herself similarly trapped in the Land of Oz after–you guessed it–a tornado. When Amy heads to the Emerald City, however, she discovers that power has gone to Dorothy’s head–she has become a tyrannical dictator.
Now, with the help of a mysterious boy named Pete, Amy must learn to wield magic and become an assassin–and unlearn everything she’s ever known about Oz–if she’s going to help save it. Find Dorothy Must Die here.
Can’t get enough magic? Read these ones:
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
As she prepares for the Ritual Purita–a ceremony in which Elder Durkas will cut her skin to see the color of her blood–sixteen-year-old Deka desperately hopes her blood is red. It’s not. When Deka’s blood runs gold, she is deemed impure and sentenced to death.
In her prison cell, a mysterious woman appears and invites Deka to escape her fate by joining the Emperor’s army of alaki–or gifted magical warriors. When Deka accepts, she embarks on a dangerous journey of self-discovery and adventure. Find The Gilded Ones here.
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
As witches whose heritage dates back to La Prima Strega or the first witch, twin sisters Emilia and Vittoria have grown up hearing stories about the prophecy of the Wicked: a race of evil demon princes.
When Vittoria is murdered after the girls’ 18th birthday, the stories Emilia heard as a child begin coming true. As she seeks vengeance for her sister and begins to learn the true power of her magic, Emilia will stop at nothing to save the world and keep the prophecy from coming to pass. Find Kingdom of the Wicked here.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
When a ruthless king ordered the mass murder of all magi–magical adults–in the African country of Orїsha, Zélie Adebola became an orphan and lost her magic. Eleven years later, those orphans–known as divîners for their unrealized magical potential–struggle to survive the oppression they face every day.
In the capital city of Lagos, Zélie saves a girl who turns out to be Princess Amari–and discovers there may be a way to return magic to the divîners once and for all–if she isn’t consumed by her own power first. Find Children of Blood and Bone here.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
Sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews has found the perfect escape from the memories of the accident that took her mother’s life–an Early College program at UNC Chapel Hill. But when Bree witnesses a terrifying attack from a magical creature, she is submerged into the world of the Legendborn: members of a monster-hunting secret society.
As Bree learns to navigate her own Black Girl Magic–and her relationship with her mentor Nick–she discovers mysteries surrounding the Legendborn and her mother’s death. With a magical war brewing on the horizon, Bree realizes she will have to make some difficult decisions if she’s going to uncover the truth. Find Legendborn here.
If you crave fantastical adventure try these:
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
As long as he has a map, Nix’s father Captain Slade can sail his time-traveling ship, The Temptation, to any place–real or imagined–in any time. For most of her sixteen years, Nix has reluctantly supported her father’s obsession: getting back to Honolulu in 1868–the year before Nix was born–in order to save her mother from dying in childbirth.
The closer her father gets to his goal, though, the closer Nix is becoming to the witty and charming thief Kash–a boy who works on their crew. If Slade saves Nix’s mother, will he take Nix away from Kash–and possibly existence–all together? Find The Girl from Everywhere here.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
When seventeen-year-old gang leader Kaz Brenner is abducted and given a business proposition, he accepts immediately. He’s a gang leader and a brilliant criminal–there’s no reason to believe he won’t be successful.
Kaz is given an unwieldy crew of criminals and outcasts–including the alluring Inej–and together they are charged with the deadly task of infiltrating the Ice Court, an impenetrable fortress. If they are successful, the reward money could be life-changing for Kaz–but only if he and his crew survive. Find Six of Crows here.
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
When the iron-fisted Pirate King Kalligan sends his only daughter, seventeen-year-old Alosa, on a mission to find and retrieve an ancient map from an enemy ship, he knows she will have to be captured and taken prisoner–but he also knows Alosa is a cunning and dangerous pirate–capable of getting the job done.
What the Pirate King and his daughter did not anticipate is the gorgeous and clever first mate Riden getting in her way. Find Daughter of the Pirate King here.
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Nahri has never believed her mysterious healing powers were actually real. As an orphan living on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s always used them to perform for–and con–Ottoman nobles out of their money.
It is during one of these cons that Nahri accidentally summons a djinn warrior named Dara and is forced to flee Cairo and embark on a journey to Daevabad–the City of Brass. Along the way, she begins to realize there is a whole magical world out there–and Nahri has an important place in it. Find The City of Brass here.
Has Stephanie Garber published any other books?
Yes! In addition to the Caraval trilogy, Garber is the author of the Once Upon a Broken Heart trilogy as well. Her website is currently under construction, but you can find her on Instagram @stephanie_garber.
Is there going to be a fourth book in the Caraval series?
According to Garber, she is not planning a fourth book in the series. However, the previously mentioned Once Upon a Broken Heart series is set in the same universe as Caraval, although in a different kingdom.
Will Caraval be made into a movie?
Garber said back in 2017 that the film option had been picked up by 20th Century Fox, but there doesn’t appear to be any new information on that. Fingers crossed!
What age group are these books intended for?
These books are all classified as Young Adult, which can cover any reader from ages 11 to 20. That being said, most of the books on this list are intended for the older end of that range, and many of them have been read and enjoyed by adult readers.