Monday, February 7, 2022

Review: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Today's review slides into Black History Month. Now, it doesn't have much history (just a tiny smidgen), but it carries the atmosphere of ancestry. I picked it up because of the blurb and the cover, not knowing that it was already marked as a best-seller a couple years ago.  The next book in this series is scheduled to hit the shelves in November (2022), which I may or may not pick up. We'll see.

Anyway, ready for a read with richness?

Legendborn #1
by Tracy Deonn
Margaret K McElderry Books
Young Adult Fantasy
501 pages

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.



Myth, ancestry, magic, demons, and secrets unite to form an exciting read, which draws in and holds tons of surprises.

Sixteen-year-old Bree has just lost her mother, and she hopes that by entering the pre-college program with her best friend away from home might be the distance she needs. On the first day, she already runs into trouble as she goes against better judgement, is picked up by the cops, and comes face to face with a demon, hunters, and magic. When forgotten memories begin to pop up, she realizes that the same type of magic has been used on her at her mother's death. Now, she's determined to get to the bottom of what really happened, even if it draws her into a world, in which she doesn't belong, and has her facing monsters worse than demons.

This is a rich novel and well-written in many ways. The world building is strong, the characters fleshed out, and there are themes such as racism, gender identity, friendship, death, and such wrapped up in there, too. Add magic, a traditional myth, spirits, power plays, world destruction...and well, it's clear that there's more than a little going on. The author uses every page to dig in deep and weave her story web as intricately and tightly as can be. Especially the ending  packs an extreme twist, and that sends the entire plot flying in an unpredictable direction, which works marvelously. If book two was out, I would have already grabbed it up. 

The main characters, Bree, has a lot of depth. She's got an attitude and is a bit prickly, but she's dealing with the fresh parting of her mother, and seeing how she's discovering all these secrets and hidden dealings, won't be buttercups and sunshine. She is determined and ready to stand up for what she believes, which makes her easy to root for. On the other hand, she makes rash decisions, is headstrong and carries an attitude. But considering her situation and age, it's understandable and also makes her relatable to a certain point. I did have a problem with her supposed age of 16 because she doesn't act it. She's on a college campus, describes those around her 'guys' as manly, and...nothing fits on that front. But that's a small detail to be easily shoved aside, since it's not an issue in the book, anyway.

There is a ton of richness in the world of the Legendborn. The author dribbles in the background bit by bit, which is necessary since it is so intricate and different. Much of this comes across well, and with the addition of Bree's own side (which I won't go more into due to spoilers), this is a complicated mix. Still, there are holes in the magic explanations and lack of reasons for the entire demon-battling origins with enough terms thrown-in to make things muddled and missing, at times. It's not that any space is wasted in the 500 pages. It's simply that there is that much woven into this tale. As long as the reader doesn't think too much and lets some spots slide over, especially those first chapters, then it's not an issue. I do hope, though, this is revisited in the upcoming books because I'm so curious and would enjoy understanding more.

And on to the romance: It's a tending triangle with a bit of insta-love but not completely. The guys are pretty interesting (one more than the other), and there is tension on that end to make it very unclear where things are headed. The build-up of chemistry is missing a little, but there are more books on the way, which leaves room to expand. I am hoping that one end uses much more build-up and depth because killing to love isn't an easy twist and needs reason and time. But this can all turn out wonderfully. It's now about the wait to see.

All in all, it's a well-woven read. I enjoyed all of the various directions and how well they come together. As said, I'm keeping my eye open for the next book's release and hoping this continues in the direction it needs to make it even better. 

1 comment:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you enjoyed this so much. I've seen it around and was curious about it. You're making me want to read it.