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.
The police officer’s body goes blurry , then sharpens again.
When did I become a lover of fantasy? If there are more books like this one out there, please point me in the right direction! I have slowly come to understand what I love in fantasy, and so much of that can be found within the pages of Legendborn. I don’t even know where to begin with this review as the book is so nuanced while the magic is so complex.
I have never been particularly drawn to the story of King Arthur and His Knights or any of its retellings, but this just worked. I thought that the idea of following the ancestors of the round table was genius and so well done. The magic and lineage within this book can be a little confusing, but I kept notes and found it was easier to follow as the story went on. We are learning about this world along with the main character, Bree, so I think it was Tracy Deonn’s intention to have the reader have to slowly work everything out at the same time Bree does. I thought that she pulled it off flawlessly!
While the magic, the world-building, and the action are strong throughout the story, it was the smaller, more nuanced conversations that stood out to me. Bree is a young black woman entering an organization whose members are all white and whose roles have been passed down through the generations. As a result, she faces racism and microaggressions that she does not shy away from calling out. Bree has also lost her mother and is dealing with the intergenerational trauma experienced by the women in her familial line. Seeing her comes to terms with and acknowledge that grief is what will stay with me the most.
There are hints of a love triangle that may play out in the second book. Normally that wouldn’t work for me, but there are valid reasons why Bree would be drawn to both of these characters, so it will be interesting to see how those relationships evolve in future books.
The ending of this book blew my mind and every day I check Goodreads to see if the sequel has been announced because I need that book in my life!
- Characters: 10
- Atmosphere/Setting: 10
- Writing Style: 10
- Plot: 9
- Intrigue: 10
- Logic/Relationships: 9
- Enjoyment: 9
Overall CAWPILE score: 67/7=9.6