Author: Tracy Deonn
Series: Legendborn, book 1
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (September 15, 2020)
Hardcover, 512 pages
Fantasy, YA Fantasy
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.
This book is SO GOOD. Tracy Deonn kept me on my toes the entire time, and kept taking twists and turns I didn’t see coming. Is this seriously her DEBUT novel?
The storytelling and characterizations in Legendborn are so rich and reading this was a really sensory experience. I could practically feel my own fingers into the dark, loamy earth in one scene, feel the sharp crackle of Sel’s gaze snap across my own nose and cheeks.
Bree is a black girl in the south, and she experiences her fair share of racism and prejudice. I love that these experiences are a part of her life and who she is, but the book isn’t about them, if that makes sense? As a white woman, I can personally relate to some of the sexism Bree experiences, but can only empathize with the pain and anger of some of the really racist BS she encounters. Also, for being about a secret society of white old southern bloodlines, Tracy Deonn manages to write a very diverse cast of characters of various races, genders, and sexual orientations. I especially appreciated the contrast of the Order of the Round Table and their impact on the other magic systems that were in place before they came, how slavery interrupted the similar sort of hereditary magic system Black people had in place, and how the root magic users subvert the heavy-handed oversight of the Order. There are some very complex power systems at play.
There is something of a love triangle here and without TOO many spoilers, I’m really hoping for a triad. I’d love to see more poly relationships in romance – it feels like it’s a relationship dynamic that’s mostly depicted in erotica/erotic romance with a heavy emphasis on sex and less so in books that are more relationship driven. There is a GREAT set-up here to take things in that direction, pleasepleasepleaseplease…
This is the first in what I’m assuming is a duology? The major plot points are wrapped up in this book, but new ones are created that lead into book 2. I can NOT wait for the next book, I can’t wait to see what happens next! Also, this needs to be a movie please – it would be AMAZING.