This book. THIS BOOK. I was SO not ready for it to be over! It’s been so long since I’ve read a contemporary fantasy, and I loved this one with my whole being!
Title: Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)
Author: Tracy Deonn
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Genres: YA Contemporary Fantasy
I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.
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.
Where do I even start??? Every aspect of this book was so brilliant! This book is being compared to City of Bones, and there are definitely similarities (secret group of demon hunters, contemporary setting), but there is so much more to Legendborn than that.
Okay, okay. I’ll start with Bree. Bree, a 17-year-old Black girl, is the heroine of Legendborn, and from the moment I entered her point of view, I was enthralled with her story. Tracy Deonn writes with such emotion you can’t help but feel Bree’s anger and grief, and later on her happiness and determination. Her journey is so powerful as she strives to discover what happened to her mother and learns more about the legacy her mother left behind for Bree to discover. Through Bree’s eyes, Deonn doesn’t hesitate to tackle some tough issues, including the history of slavery in the United States, and Bree’s place as a minority among a mostly-white society of magic users (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). Bree is such a fantastic heroine, and I cannot wait to continue her journey as the next books come out.
The other characters in this book are fantastic as well! Nick is definitely my favorite—he has a heart of gold and wants to help Bree in every way he can. I immediately shipped these two, and whooboy… there is some serious flirting between these two and I was LIVING for it! I could not stop giggling as I watched these two get closer and closer. Selwyn is another character I enjoyed—he’s the dark, brooding bad boy with a ton of power, but he became more complex as the story went on. I loved how inclusive this world is: there are several LGBTQ+ characters in this book, and it was wonderful to see. I cannot wait to get to know these characters even more.
One thing that totally blew me away is the complexity of the magic systems in Legendborn! I’m a huge fantasy lover, and finding complex and expansive magic systems in YA is such a treat. The synopsis of the book goes into the King Arthur side of the magic, but it doesn’t even hint at everything else, and I don’t want to say anything in case of spoilers. Just know that you are in for a ride, and a really fun one at that.
By the way, this book is a CHONK! It’s a whopping 500+ pages, and if I’d known that going into it, I would’ve been a little more intimidated. When I found out… I was a little intimidated XD But don’t be alarmed!!! This book is wondrously fast-paced, with so many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. I was flipping through this book so fast, and when I had to put it down, I kept thinking that I needed to keep reading. And the ending. OH MY GOSH. I was so not expecting that. It is glorious.
- Girls with swords is one of my favorite things, and you can find them here!
- Did I mention the romance is super shippable??? (I know I did, but it’s totally worth mentioning it twice)
- There are amazing descriptions of southern food 😉
- This book makes me want to read and watch ALL of the King Arthur retellings! But mostly, I just want more books.
This book has it all—a fantastic heroine to root for, an adorable romance, amazing magic system and fast-paced plot. Fans of City of Bones and contemporary fantasy in general should definitely give this book a chance. You won’t regret it.