Author: Stephanie Garber
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Audiobook Length: 12 hours 6 minutes
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…all games must come to an end.
It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.
Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finally, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.
Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything.
After finishing the series, I must say that it was a fun ride and I regret not trying it out sooner. Finale is in the last installment in the trilogy and is duel-perspective from both Scarlett and Donatella (Tella) Dragna. Unlike Caraval with Scarlett as the main character and Legendary with Tella as the main character, this novel set out to wrap up both storylines by combining them away from the Caraval game setting. There are new stakes and obstacles to overcome now that neither are participating players and instead have to deal with the immortal Fates that have been released from the Deck of Destiny, including dangerous The Fallen Star, and Legend ascending the throne of Valenda.
At the end of Legendary, the stakes are set with the Fates and transition to the main plot of this story. The issue is that Scarlett was not a main in that story and was in the background meaning that this novel needed to reintroduce her side of the story. There are pieces in the previous installment but in relation to Tella’s journey. It seemed that the author favored Tella’s story over Scarlett’s as the novel was skewed towards Tella and her dilemma with Jacks and Legend. An example of this would be the treatment of the Count Nicholas subplot as it is set up to be a lot more than how it turns out while Tella’s love triangle took up many more pages giving Scarlett’s love dilemma less time. Additionally, a subplot involving Scarlett and The Fallen Star took up a lot less space than I preferred as it felt rushed. Legend and Jacks were enjoyable continuations of their characters from the previous novel while growing as the story moved forward. While I loved Tella in the second novel, she was less likable in this novel due to her back-and-forth nature between her love interests without a lot of reasoning why aside from impulsiveness at the moment.
The writing style in this novel was a mix of the first two installments as it had the descriptive yet concise measures of the second and the more lyrical whimsy of the first. Some sentences felt a little forced as it felt like the author was pushing the two styles together while in other moments, the writing flowed effortlessly. The story is a little darker compared to the first two and more exploration is done into the folklore. For me, I would have preferred this novel divided into two in order to give all of the new information and characters time to be developed.
Overall, the general outline for this installment was fantastic, but there needed a lot more pages added to make it seem complete. As the novel itself stands, it feels very rushed as the author is wrapping up everything from the first two novels plus all of the new elements introduced in this one. It was a lot to cover and not enough time. The romances were easy to predict from the very first moment each couple met, but they were still enjoyable. This may not have been my favorite novel in the series, but I did greatly enjoy everything as a whole. The entire concept is fantastic and I would love a miniseries or movie using this material! I am very excited that this will not be the last of Jacks as he is present in OUABH!