Review: Legendborn

Literally everything I’d seen about Legendborn sounded exquisite! It promised a much-needed fresh take on tales we think we know, with awesome characters and plenty of secrets to uncover. Luckily for me, the amazing Daniel Fricker at Simon and Schuster sent me an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

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.

TW: grief, death, racism, rape, sexual assault, femicide, slavery, violence, mention of police brutality

My Thoughts:

Legendborn is a must-read YA fantasy of 2020. If this book isn’t already on your radar, I’m telling you that you need to rectify that immediately. 

Deonn has crafted such an epic tale, with expansive mythology and scale that combines an expert interrogation of societal issues and a tale of reclaiming your own identity in a world that wants to bury it. The brutal, blood drenched nature of colonialism and slavery forms a key component of the story, reminding us that historically we focus far too much on the white, Western narrative and continue the marginalisation and erasure of people from their own history and stories. Deonn tears apart the Arthurian myth and how it has entered the collective consciousness in a way that few other tales have managed to. She breathes new life into this old tale, giving it a much needed twenty-first century perspective. The group that Bree encounters is fundamentally build on ivory towers and the cloak of privilege that allows them to continue their flawed legacy. Contrasting this wonderfully is the other path that Bree encounters (no spoilers here) that focuses on family and reconnecting with your heritage, often coming from a place where that history has forcibly been ignored and forgotten. A lot of the book centres around history, be that familial or more extensive and I really enjoyed Deonn’s critiques of the whitewashing of history, often to conceal horrendous acts. 

Another major theme of the novel is the exploration of grief. Personally, I found this to be such an authentic and emotional portrayal. Bree’s emotional vulnerability really helped me connect to her and overall, she is such a great protagonist. Her internal conflict drives most of her actions, but her tenacity and spirit always shines through. She proves that strength doesn’t always equate to physical characteristics. Her supporting cast of characters was also very interesting and three-dimensional, with plenty of intriguing abilities and stories of their own. They felt like real teenagers caught up in this whole mystical world, facing their own mortality and monsters. This allowed for more emotional impact, which Deonn capitalises on with some exquisite plot twists and moments that left me reeling. She hooks you in immediately and then never really lets you go, leaving you craving more.

Legendborn is an impactful, fantastically creative and relevant YA fantasy that will challenge and enthral you.

I will continue to speak up about current events now and forever and to help, here are links to Carrds talking about many of the world’s current events and how you can help. Also, I’ve linked here the Black Lives Matter Carrd to support, but also here is a list of resources to aid Anti-Racism work in the UK, as well as UK specific places to donate to. I will be doing this on every post. If you have the funds to donate, please do but if not, please support and uplift Black voices and sign the petitions, including 10 UK specific petitions here.  

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