A Complete Guide to Stephanie Garber’s Books


When I first bought Caraval, I was only thinking about the gorgeous covers and the fact that the hardback box set was 50% off. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to read them. As they started gaining popularity, I decided to give them a shot, and I was instantly a Stephanie Garber fan for life. I know that it can be hard to know where to start when an author has multiple series that connect, so I’ve put together a list of all of her books in chronological order, adding my thoughts on each one. Hopefully you find some books to add to your TBR!

About Stephanie Garber: “Stephanie Garber is the #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Once Upon a Broken Heart, The Ballad of Never After, and the Caraval trilogy. Her books have been translated into thirty languages” (Bio from the Macmillan Publishers’ website).

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“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”

After a lifetime of dreaming on a small island, Scarlet gets an invitation to Caraval, a faraway annual performance where the audience participates in the show. With the help of Julian, a sailor she meets, Scarlet makes her way to Caraval, where her sister Tella gets taken by Legend, the mastermind behind the performance. Whoever finds Tella first wins, and the line between the game and reality blurs as Scarlet fights to find her sister in a whirlwind of magic and love. 

Garber’s debut novel was one I instantly fell in love with. Before Caraval, I had never read a book so whimsical and unique. It really took me by surprise just how much I enjoyed it. I felt like it started slow, but the pace picked up about halfway through and had me hooked throughout the rest of the series. There was a perfect balance between romance, magic, adventure, and sisterly love. I loved both Scarlet and Julian, and I loved the mystery and distrust between the two that carried on for so much of the book. Garber really is a genius, slowly connecting all of the pieces in a way that sneaks up on you. She established herself as an all-time favorite author of mine with this book. 

“Not everyone gets a true ending. There are two types of endings because most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most. Only those who persevere can find their true ending.”

Tella helped her sister escape their father and an arranged marriage during Caraval, but the price was a bargain with a criminal that she must now uphold. She has to discover Legend’s true name. Tella competes in Caraval once again in order to discover his name and fulfill the bargain, becoming wrapped up in secrets, love stories, and murderous plots for the throne as she fights for her future. 

After loving Scarlet and Julian’s story in Caraval, I was a little unsure about the switch in narrators from Scarlet to her sister, Tella. However, Tella completely won me over, and I honestly ended up liking her point of view more than Scarlet’s. Tella is bold and determined, and she will do anything to protect herself and those she loves. She ends up crossing paths with Jacks, a new character who stole my heart almost immediately. It is very rare that you come across a truly morally gray character, but Jacks is just that. He is one of multiple Fates that are introduced in this book, each with their own unique powers and backstories, and they further complicate the plot. Tella finds herself caught in multiple webs throughout Legendary, and I felt that it was the perfect sequel to Caraval

“Tella had decided long ago to never make decisions ruled by fear. Fear was a poison that people mistook as protection. Making choices to stay safe could be just as treacherous.”

Two months after the events of Legendary, everything is at stake. Tella has to figure out who to trust, and Scarlet’s entire life has been turned upside down. Caraval is over, and Legend has to make the ultimate choice. There is everything to gain and even more to lose in this finale to the Caraval trilogy. 

Finale had all of the drama, magic, and stakes of the first two books, putting every character to the ultimate test. The point of view switched between Tella and Scarlet, which I thought was the perfect way to keep up with their independent struggles. Both of them were dealing with their own problems that slowly converged towards an ending that was absolutely everything you could want in a series finale. Garber once again proved herself to be a genius who thinks outside of the box with the way she split up the book. She mentioned in Finale that not everyone makes it to their true ending, and she separated Finale into the Beginning, Middle, Almost-Ending, and the True Ending. I can’t explain the feeling of turning the page and seeing “True Ending.” It was the kind of last chapter that gives you goosebumps and has you tearing up as you close the book. Caraval is one of the best YA fantasy series I have ever read, and I highly recommend it to anyone with even a slight love of fantasy and romance. 

Once Upon A Broken Heart
“I believe there are far more possibilities than happily ever after or tragedy. Every story has the potential for infinite endings.”

Evangeline has always believed in happily ever after, but when her true love becomes engaged to another, she is heartbroken. In an attempt to stop the wedding, she makes a deal with the Prince of Hearts (Jacks), promising three kisses in exchange for his help. She quickly learns that Jacks has more planned for her, becoming entangled in his agenda and the danger that comes with it. 

When I heard that Stephanie Garber was releasing a spin-off with Jacks, my favorite Caraval character, I was ecstatic. She genuinely blew me away, exceeding all of my expectations. I grew to love Evangeline as a character, her innocence being the perfect balance to broken-hearted Jacks’ questionable morals. I loved how neither of them were perfect; both Jacks and Evangeline displayed flaws and made some bad decisions. Throughout the entire story, I had absolutely no clue where it was going, which doesn’t happen often. By the end of the book, there had been so many twists and turns that I was just speechless. I couldn’t tell you what was right and wrong, what was real or fake, and I was left with this big cliffhanger that had me questioning the entirety of the story. It was amazing. I had thought Caraval made Garber a genius, but her level of planning and foreshadowing was nothing in that series compared to Once Upon A Broken Heart. It was arguably my favorite book of 2021. 

The Ballad of Never After
“She used to think love was like a house. Once it was built, a person got to live in it forever. But now she wondered if love was more like a war… Winning at love was less about succeeding in battle and more about continuing to fight, to choose the person you loved as the one you were willing to die for, over and over.”

After the events of Once Upon A Broken Heart, Evangeline swears not to trust Jacks and to use her newfound magic to restore her happily ever after instead. When a new curse threatens her life, Evangeline finds herself needing Jacks, despite wanting to hate him. The lines start to blur as they work to break the curse, Evangeline’s head and heart saying different things as she wonders who to trust. 

I genuinely don’t know if I can describe just how much I love this book. It is hands-down the best thing Stephanie Garber has ever written. The relationship between Jacks and Evangeline just gets more complicated as their fates become more and more intertwined. The official description states that the curse is the center of the plot, but there was so much more at play. So many secrets were uncovered, and Evangeline learned so much about Jacks and his life before he became an immortal Fate. Garber foreshadowed things in Once Upon A Broken Heart that didn’t come to fruition until The Ballad of Never After, and it was truly a magical experience to realize everything was connected. Once again, I was left in tears and covered in goosebumps as I finished this book in complete shock. It is one of my favorite books of all time. I have no idea how the series is going to end, but I know it’s going to be life-changing. 

A Curse For True Love
Coming October 24, 2023 from Flatiron Books.

The final book in the Once Upon A Broken Heart trilogy comes out this month! Evangeline might think she has her happily ever after, but she doesn’t know the price that has been paid and what is missing from her life. It’s all on the line as lives are in danger and love is at stake.

A Curse For True Love is my most anticipated release of 2023. The ending of The Ballad of Never After was the ultimate cliffhanger, and I’ve waited a year to finally know what comes next. I can’t wait to see what Jacks is going to do and how Evangeline is going to deal with her current situation. This book could end a million different ways, and I’m so excited to see which one Stephanie Garber chooses!

Sam Yanis, Pine Reads Review Writer