Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review! Legendborn by Tracy Deonn goes on sale September 15, 2020.
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Series: Legendborn #1
Recommend to Others?: Yes
ABOUT: After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.
My Review: Legendborn was an incredible read! This book quickly became an instant favorite.
Truthfully, Legendborn was a tough read. I was angry and sad and frustrated by the direct and indirect “polite” racism towards Bree – it’s an honest reflection of today’s world. As a black American, this cut bone-deep. I applaud the way Bree handled herself towards such comments and people.
Bree is a fantastic main character. She’s clearly suffering from PTSD but is extremely adamant about finding the truth about her mother’s accident. Sometimes you rooted for her, sometimes you wish she’d exercised more caution. But I think Bree was meant to end up on that campus at that point in time, adding to the more than meets the eye vibes. Haunting.
The author has recreated a wholly original take on Arthurian legends. It’s complex but so befitting. Although, it was hard for me to remember so much information about the secret society – lots of well-written but huge info-dumps. It can be hard compartmentalizing all the terms, hierarchy, and family ties. My hope for the next book is that we’ll have a glossary of terms and family trees. Especially as one’s family – where you come from and where you’re going – plays a vital role in the overall story.
I liked Nick’s character a lot but also felt bad or him. He’s a rather tortured soul but does what he can to help Bree. I didn’t like that she took advantage of that and their budding romance at times. I get the why but it doesn’t absolve the wrongness I feel about it.
There is so much action that takes place throughout the story. The final climactic scene at the end was really good, shocking, and sad. An emotional rollercoaster.
Legendborn is an astounding book and relevant to the troubling times we currently find (or maybe never left?) ourselves in. There is much to love about this book and the direction it could go in the next book. Legendborn had wondrous contemporary world-building, bold tackling of important societal/cultural issues, beautiful writing, solid character growth, tension beyond belief, and heroism to admire. This story is a must read!