Book Review: Legendborn

Title: Legendborn

Author: Tracy Deonn

Genres:  Fantasy

Pages: 512

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Review Copy: ARC from publisher

Availability: Available Now

Summary: 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.

Review: First off, I want to ask Ms. Deonn – when is the sequel to this book coming out? I need it like yesterday! Legendborn took me on a wonderful ride and when it was done I wasn’t ready to get off. I was so into the story, the world of Legendborn that I would think about it during the day and couldn’t wait to finish my work so I could spend time with Bree and friends.

Okay, so now that my “fangirling” is out the way, let me tell you why I loved this book so much. First off is Bree. She is such a wonderful realistic character who you can’t but help to love. Bree is a very smart, very quick thinking young woman who is doing her best while grieving the horrible loss of her mother. The novel opens with Bree learning of her mother’s death and dealing with the fact that their last conversation was a fight about acceptance into UNC’s Early College program. The story then skips forward three months to Bree at UNC. Bree comes across to everyone as strong (and she is really) but that is because she is burying her grief and her guilt. I really connected with her here because so many people put on a brave front when really they are crying inside and that conflict within herself is what really drove the story. Deonn also used Bree’s burgeoning powers as a wonderful metaphor for grief as her powers would show up at the randomness of times and they were often when Bree was at a low point (or in danger). Bree never really comes to terms with her power until she comes to terms with her relationship with her mother and her own history. The wonderful growth that Bree go through throughout the novel is beautiful and (without giving spoilers) she deserves and own what happens to her in the end. I somehow got spoiled to the ending, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the novel and the moment when Bree fully embraced her power I cheered.

I would be remiss to not gush about the world building of Legendborn that Deonn clearly poured her heart into. The King Arthur legend is so complex as it was been played with by so many authors throughout history and I love that Deonn added to the canon. The magic rules were well thought out and made sense, making it fully believable. What I especially loved is that she created what magic would be like from a Black American perspective, called Rootcraft. It had it’s own specific rules that made sense but also clearly felt rooted in Black culture. I love magical stories, but I really loved how Rootcraft was presented and how Bree got to experience it. Having the two magical systems, for lack of a better word, brought a nice contrast to how our ancestors history shapes us and influences our present. The magic, both Rootcraft and Legendborn, felt so real that I could imagine it existed in our society.

Lastly, I cannot say enough how much I loved this novel. Don’t sleep on it and buy it today.