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Book Review: Legendborn

by | Apr 19, 2023 | Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Age Rating: 13+

Are you ready to embark on a magical journey that seamlessly blends Arthurian legends with contemporary fantasy? Look no further than Legendborn by Tracy Deonn! As a fan of Arthurian legends, I was thrilled to discover this captivating YA novel that adds an intriguing twist to the classic tale. But Legendborn isn’t just a retelling of King Arthur’s story – it’s a modern-day adventure with diverse characters, complex relationships, and romance that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Join me as we delve deeper into this extraordinary book in our Legendborn review.

Tropes in this Book

  • Love triangle
  • Secret society
  • Insta-love
  • Chosen one

A Riveting Journey of Discovery

Legendborn is an enthralling and magical YA fantasy novel that blends contemporary fantasy, secret societies, and the timeless allure of Arthurian legends. This mesmerizing debut novel invites readers to step into the hallowed halls of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill, where descendants of King Arthur and the Order of the Round Table, called Legendborn, valiantly defend the world against mystical dangers.

The story follows 16-year-old Bree Matthews, an exceptionally talented young Black girl from North Carolina, as she embarks on a new chapter of her life in an early college program at UNC Chapel Hill after the devastating loss of her mother, who dies in an accident. Her world is turned upside down when she encounters a mysterious magical attack on campus, which unleashes long-hidden memories of her mother’s tragic death. Driven by a desire to uncover the truth, Bree finds herself entangled in the world of the Legendborn, an ancient secret society rooted in the Arthurian legends of the Knights of the Round Table.

As Bree delves deeper into the secretive ranks of the Legendborn, she must skillfully navigate a labyrinth of allegiances, betrayals, and ancient rivalries, all the while confronting a supernatural war that has spanned centuries. This mesmerizing tale will captivate readers from the first page, making them eager for more.

Evocative Writing and Powerful Themes

Tracy Deonn’s world-building in Legendborn is extraordinary and undeniably rich, as she skillfully interweaves the time-honored Arthurian legend with a modern-day secret society that will captivate readers. The campus setting of UNC-Chapel Hill and its innovative magic system breathe new life into this distinctive YA fantasy. At the same time, the beautifully portrayed characters and their relationships add depth and emotional resonance to the narrative. Bree’s character growth is especially commendable as she confronts grief, loss, and the challenges that arise from being a young Black woman in a predominantly white institution.

Deonn artfully constructs a unique magic system inspired by the Arthurian legend, offering a delightful twist on the classic tale. This magical realm coexists seamlessly with the contemporary setting, providing a familiar backdrop that grounds the story in reality while retaining its fantastical elements, creating an immersive and captivating environment that readers will be eager to explore further.

Unraveling Secrets and Exploring Relationships

As Bree delves deeper into the world of the Legendborn, she begins to uncover hidden secrets about her heritage and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. This journey of self-discovery is one of the book’s most compelling aspects as Bree grapples with the legacy of her ancestors and the history of the Coretta Scott King community. Deonn skillfully intertwines Bree’s narrative with the broader themes of family, legacy, and identity, creating a powerful and resonant story that will resonate with readers.

Bree’s relationships with her fellow students and the members of the secret society are complex and engaging, with each character having a unique backstory and motivations. The love triangle that develops adds a layer of tension and intrigue to the story as each character grapples with their feelings and loyalties. We also love to see the representation of diverse and queer characters, which Deonn portrays organically and authentically.

In addition to the fascinating magic system and world-building, Deonn’s writing is poetic and evocative. She delves into themes of race, intergenerational trauma, and the effects of slavery on the descendants of those involved, which makes for a thought-provoking and powerful read. Her ability to tackle complex themes and issues, such as racism, classism, and the historical erasure of marginalized communities, creates a narrative that is not only engaging but also thought-provoking and relevant to contemporary discussions.

Final Thoughts

As a contemporary fantasy, Legendborn delivers on all fronts: it has a unique and captivating magic system, rich world-building, and an engaging plot that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. From the moment Bree witnesses the magical attack, readers will be drawn into her journey of self-discovery and her quest to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. This book will resonate with fans of YA fantasy and those who appreciate a fresh and innovative take on classic legends.

If you found this review helpful, you can check out the book at Bookshop.org here and support local bookstores along the way!