Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking those links, I will receive a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.Legendborn (Legendborn, #1) by Tracy Deonn
Published by Simon Pulse on September 15, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Format: eBook (511 pages)
Purchase: Amazon • IndieBound
Add Book: Goodreads • Bookhype
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.
Proceed with Caution:
This book contains death of a parent and grief, slavery, rape, and a post-whipping scene.
Legendborn is narrated in first person by Bree, a sixteen-year-old Black girl who is discovering the magic within her.
The book is set at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where Bree and her best friend Alice have been accepted into the Early College program.
Bree knows something was weird about her mother’s death and she believes an Arthurian secret society on campus holds the answers. She manages to get sponsored as a page, and tries to find the answers. Instead she discovers her mother’s secrets and their family history, while fighting demons and preparing for an upcoming war.
Legendborn is definitely unique! It combines Arthurian legend with folkmagic, which is something I’ve never read before. Bree is also a no nonsense type of heroine and isn’t shy to go after what she wants. And what she wants is answers and revenge!
My one complaint about Legendborn was the worldbuilding. Whenever Bree is learning something new about the secret society and their mission, it comes in the form of page long info-dumps. A bunch of names and definitions are thrown at us and it’s not very interesting. In fact, that whole thing is quite convoluted and confusing. I like what the author was doing, but it just wasn’t presented in a way that worked for me.
However, whenever Bree was learning about her Rootcraft and family history it was done in a more showing rather than telling way. She’s actually shown what their magic can do while it’s being explained. This mainly takes place in the form of a type of time travel and possession! It was really cool. I enjoyed how Rootcraft was firmly rooted in African American history. It wasn’t just a Black version of the white character’s magic. It was its own system passed down through families.
The last quarter of Legendborn was much better than the middle section. The tension and action finally ramp up. We know what’s going on and it’s time to just do it! There was a super fun plot twist that I didn’t see coming, and it has me excited to read more.
Quotes from Legendborn:
But when your entire world is shattering, a little bit of magic is…nothing. (page 3)
“Being clever and being creepy are not mutually exclusive.” (page 50)
“And third, I don’t know what your feminine wiles are, but I’d be willing to ass them. To see if they could, indeed, seduce me enough to make me bond myself to you forever.” (page 191)
“Colonizer magic. Magic that costs and takes. Many practitioners face demons. Many of us face evil. But from the moment their founders arrived, from the moment they stole Native homeland, the Order themselves gave the demons plenty to fee on! They reap what their magic sows.” (page 233)