Finale is the third and final entry in Stephanie Garber’s Caraval series, and it picks up two months after the conclusion of the second book, Legendary. This time around, we get split POVs, alternating back and forth between sisters Scarlett and Tella as they race to save the kingdom and stop the Fates once and for all.
It’s been a while since I read the first book, Caraval, so I had forgotten how literally colorful Scarlett’s POV is. She has a synesthesia-like association of emotion and color, which I had a little less patience for this time, but fortunately Garber built on it & tied this character detail into the plot, making it easier to appreciate. You could also see how Scarlett had grown since Caraval, becoming a little more bold and decisive in her actions. Tella’s POV hasn’t really changed since Legendary—her decision making is still pretty reactionary and impulsive, for better or worse.
Unlike the first two novels, there is no game in Finale, though there is still plenty of mystery and intrigue. The Fates—immortal beings who each possess a specific and powerful magic—are gradually regaining strength now that they’re free, cruelly toying with the unwitting mortals who cross their paths. Though Tella feels a responsibility to stop the Fates since she had a hand in freeing them, the mission quickly becomes personal for both sisters when the Fallen Star, the first of the Fates, targets them. This is further complicated by Tella’s love triangle with Jacks and Legend, both of whom could potentially have the magic Tella needs to defeat the Fallen Star, but neither of whom she can totally trust.
The story is really intriguing, as is the world-building—I could easily be persuaded to read a prequel on how the Fates came to be—but I wish there was a little more connectivity within the series. If that had been a little stronger, it might have pushed my rating to a 4. As is, Finale does a much better job tying into the details of Legendary than Legendary did to Caraval, but even in it there are still new aspects being introduced and old details being dropped. For instance, the Fallen Star, while mentioned by name in the second book, is not fleshed out until Finale, and then he is revealed to actually be the creator of the Fates and the main antagonist of the series. This might have carried more weight if his character had been introduced earlier. Also, Legend’s debt to the Temple of the Stars, while hinted as being potentially very costly in Legendary, was resolved in about two sentences pretty early in Finale, so that was a bit of a let down.
Other than that, just taking the story on its own, I really enjoyed Finale. It’s fast-paced, I absolutely want to know more about the magic-system, and the characters are compelling. All in all, I give it 3.5 stars.