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Legendborn: An In-Depth Book Review

Hello, friends! I hope you are all having a fantastic day! And happy February! January really flew by, didn't it?


Today, I bring you my first actual review and I thought what better than to write about the book that basically wrecked me? I'm talking about none other than Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. This book has it all: magic, literature references, romance, intrigue, and...


In this review, there will be spoilers, but that will be at the end. Don't worry, I'll let you know when that is. If you haven't read the book yet, you can view if you so please. However, I personally recommend you don't just so you can experience the emotional wreckage properly.


Let's get into the review, shall we?

 

Description

The synopsis is from Good Reads.


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 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 it 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.


Initial Thoughts


First of all, I absolutely love young adult novels. I don't think I'll ever get bored of them. Every month at Barnes & Noble, we have a selection of monthly picks, where there's always a YA option. I'm always super excited about these books to the point where I buy a copy and I read them. And nine times out of ten, I love them. This book was no exception.


Honestly, I think this one was my favorite thus far. Especially when I saw there were connections to King Arthur. As an English major, I read multiple different interpretations of King Arthur and the Round Table for my British Literature course. And, as I expected, my English major was showing. I got so excited and so nerdy about this book. So much so that I annotated for the first time. And I do not regret it at all. I have at least 500 annotations. Again, my English major was showing.


I wasn't sure how much the legend of King Arthur would be intertwined in the plot. And I was so pleased to see it was very important to not only the plot, but the characters, as well. And having learned that history, I was super excited. For example, I read a short story called Le Morte D'Arthur by Thomas Malory. The piece discusses Arthur's injuries in war and "death." It is believed that when the time is right, King Arthur would return. And when he does, he will bring back his knights. Disney's Avalon High shares a similar story. Many believe when the time is right, King Arthur will return and continue to fight in battle. What's cool about Deonn's interpretation is the Order, the Legendborn group, will fight in a centuries long battle against demons. Therefore, she attempts to stay true to the legend, but adds her unique spin, which is always appreciated.


That's my little history/English lesson.


My Overall Review


I absolutely loved this book. I would say I really finished it in about 3-4 days. I could not put it down. There were many late nights. And tears may or may not have been shed. As I mentioned, I love the use of King Arthur with the twist of spiritual warfare. Deonn was specific and did her research. For example, Sir Gawain is closely related to color green for the piece Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The line of Gawain, according to Deonn's interpretation, focuses on healing with the use of aether magic.


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight deals with quite a bit of magic. At the beginning of the piece, a green knight runs in challenging Arthur to a duel. Sir Gawain ends up volunteering to take his place. He tries to kill the knight by beheading him. Sir Gawain succeeds in beheading this green knight, but because of magical properties, the knight does not die. And the knight continues to challenge Sir Gawain. The piece focuses on hospitality, as well, which ties into his descendants' role as healer for the Legendborn community. Even with the introduction of characters and what line they're from (Gawain, Lancelot, Owain, Arthur, etc.), it was easy to follow along. There weren't many times where I was confused, which I think is a good thing.


Characters


Not only was the history exciting, but the characters were developed very well. I loved the character of Bree, especially as she tries to figure out who she is after her mom's death. It was amazing to see her create relationships with other people throughout the book. And, as she tries to figure out the truth behind her mom's death, she begins to see a change in relationship with herself, which I absolutely loved.


My favorite characters were:

  • Bree Matthews -- because, duh

  • Nick Davis -- Bree's mentor and Legendborn prodigy

  • Selwyn Kane -- the Merlin of the Legendborn group

  • William Sitterson -- Legendborn healer (and a total sweetheart)

  • Alice Chen -- Bree's best friend


Dialogue


Not only did I love the characters and character development, but I loved the connections between characters. There aren't really spoilers here, but I want to gave you a few of my favorite sequences of dialogues between characters. I'm sure you'll fall in love with the characters as much as I have after reading these.


Bree and Alice

I kick at a pebble. "I need to be alone for a minute. Enjoy the party. I'll be there soon."
She eyes me as if gauging my mood. "I hate tiny parties--they force one into constant exertion."
I squint, searching my memories for the familiar words. "Did you--did you just Jane Austen me?"
Her dark eyes twinkle. "Who's the literary nerd? The quoter or the one who recognizes the quote?"
"Wait." I shake my head in amusement. "Did you just Star Wars me?"
"Nah." She grins. "I New Hope'd you."
Legendborn, 15

Bree and Nick

"How did you find me?"
He shrugs. "I asked Dean McKinnon for your class schedule and campus ID photo." He holds up a hand before I protest. "Not personal information typically shared with students, but the EC consent forms we all signed waive that right between mentors, orientation assistants, and other assigned guides. I found out when your last class ended. Made a guess as to when you'd hit dinner, then estimated how long it'd take for you to get through the buffet line in Lenoir, find a table, and eat at that hour of the day. All I had to do was show up and wait outside the exit closest to Old East."
I stop, my jaw open. He grins, clearly amused and more than a little pleased with himself. "So, you're a creep?"
He holds a hand to his chest like I've wounded him. "Not a creep, just clever."
...
He pauses, squints. "I didn't think you were in this class."
"I'm not. I asked the dean for your schedule."
A smile breaks across his face. "Who's creepy-clever now?"
I snort. "Still you, by the way."
Legendborn, 49-50; 70

Bree and Selwyn (Sel)

"How would you like me to carry you? What would please you, Page Matthews?"
I huff and circle him, evaluating my options and ignoring his long-suffering stare. "Piggyback."
"Excuse me?"
"You heard me."
"Like that movie--"
"Shut up."
"Churlish."
"Arrogant."
Legendborn, 349

Bree and William (slight spoiler?)

I change the subject. "So...what about a Scion dating their own Squire?"
"Like Russ and Felicity? Or Tor and Sar?" William makes an iffy motion with his head. "Scions dating their Squires can work--but imagine breaking up and then being bonded to your ex forever. I don't know about you, but I'd rather eat my own aether sword."
"Ah," is all I can manage."
"'Ah,' she says--" William lifts a mocking eyebrow--"as if this is just idle conversation and has nothing at all to do with her relationship to one Scion in particular."
"Shush."
Legendborn, 290

I chose all of these examples purely because of the witty banter between characters. Honestly, as much as I love Nick, the conversations between Bree and Sel, like the one given above, is my all-time favorite. They have a difficult friendship/relationship/whatever you want to call it, but the book would be very different without it. Bree's sarcastic charm pairs very well with Sel's brooding character. And I'm here for it.


Magic


Honestly, when it comes to magic, I think it can be really hit or miss. I mean, how much can you describe magic without being too cliche or repetitive? It does not surprise me in saying that Tracy Deonn exceeded my expectations. She introduced new words, described colors of magic and the different types of magic. She introduced fighting against demons, the type of weapons Sel could create with his magic, how William healed his friends, and so much more. It was very well executed.


My Rating


Overall, I would give this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. I loved it so much. The ending completely caught me off-guard. I mean, I still had twenty pages left and Tracy Deonn was still throwing out some lit bombs (pun intended -- I know, it's bad but I'm not sorry). The next book comes out in November of this year and I'm so excited. But I don't know if I can wait that long. We'll see, I guess.


So, do I recommend this book? Yes. Yes I do. Because it's great. And you should read it.

 

SPOILERS!


In this section, I plan to share some of my predictions and reactions, which will give some of the plot away. So, if you don't want to see any spoilers for this book if you haven't read it yet or you're currently reading it, this is where the article ends. As always, let me know what you think of the article. Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? What are/were your predictions? Let's start a conversation! Leave them in the comments below. 😁


Predictions

  • Pg. 141 -- Bree is the Scion for Arthur, her mom didn't want her involved; a Merlin kills Bree's mom so she can go to Carolina; Bree is sixteen!

  • Pg. 189 -- Maybe Bree is from the Line of Morgaine?

  • Pg. 319 -- Right before or after the tournament, something bad will happen; maybe Nick is called, someone dies, or the goruchel is revealed. Something will happen!

  • Pg. 358 -- What if Bree's mother was killed by a Shadowborn?

  • Pg. 423 -- What if Lord Davis convinced Sel's mother there was a goruchel and got her to open the gates? He was never Called; this was his opportunity. Then his son was born -- he blamed Sel's mom, got a new Merlin who opens gates so Nick would be Called only so he can finally participate in Camlann?

  • Pg. 466 -- BREE IS KING ARTHUR?!


Reactions


Me to friend 1: Do you ever just read a book where two characters obviously like each other but don't actually say anything to each other about it but just casually dance around the subject and do/say nice things for/about each other and you just want to scream "ADMIT YOUR FEELINGS ALREADY" and their whole relationship just warms your heart? Or is that just me? *cue the "emotional damage" audio clip* 😂😅🙃


Me to friend 2:

  • This book is killing me 😭😭😭😭 10:07 pm

  • Too much emotional turmoil 😭😭 Might actually cry. 🤧🤧 Damaged. 10:26 pm

  • This book is destroying me. 11:18 pm

  • I still have 36 pages left 😭 And there was another twist! 11:20 pm

  • I can't. I'm done. 11:20 pm

  • Tracy Deonn has killed me. 11:20 pm

  • Via words and emotional turmoil. 11:20 pm

  • I'm malfunctioning. 11:20 pm

  • 24 pages left and still major twists. I sImPlY cAnNoT rIgHt NoW. 11:44 pm

  • I NEED TO RANT. I HAVE 20 PAGES LEFT AND I'M TRYING TO FINISH IT BUT I MIGHT ACTUALLY CRY. I CAN'T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME I FELT THIS WAY ABOUT A BOOK. SEND HELP. 11:51 pm

Me to friend 3:

  • I'm really upset at the main character of my book right now because she may be into two guys at once and they both may be into her, but she's kind of with one guy and he's the good, perfect guy and the other guy is the morally grey character and usually I'm for the morally grey character but the other guy is so much better and I'm upset. 10:30 pm

  • But then I'm also upset because this girl and the morally grey character would be perfect together 😭 But maybe they can just be friends and she can date the good guy? I want to live vicariously through this character. Morally grey = a no for me right now. 10:30 pm

  • I TAKE BACK EVERYTHING I JUST SAID. 10:47 pm

  • Just ignore me...I'm not being emotionally distraught at the hands of a paperback or anything...😭 10:47 pm

  • NEVER MIND. I RECANT MY PREVIOUS RECANTING. I'M AN EMOTIONAL WRECK. SEND HELP. 😂😂😂😭😭😭 11:19 pm

Me to friend 4:

  • So I just finished reading Legendborn. And I am distraught. I almost cried multiple times. I may be currently malfunctioning at the moment and I don't know how to move forward. Tracy Deonn may have very well destroyed me. And I'm not okay 😂 12:31 am


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