What’s it About? (From Goodreads)
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.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Final Rating: 4 Stars
“Don’t make your life about the loss. Make it about the love.”
It took me so long to get my thoughts into order about this book. But, I did, so here we go:
Legendborn is a fantasy Arthurian retelling based around 16 year old Bree Matthews. Since her mother died in a car accident, Bree has wanted nothing more than to get out of her small town and away from memories and sadness. She and a friend enroll in a residential college program for gifted high school students. It seems like a flawless plan, until Bree witnesses a magical attack on campus, as well as a teenage boy use magic. She learns that the magic is called aether and there’s a secret community of people called Legendborns who basically fight shadowborns (AKA demons) and oh, they’re also descendants of King Arthor and the Knights of the Round Table. So of course, our MC Bree is tangles up in all this.
I liked Bree. She always stood up for herself and had no filter between her brain and mouth, thus saying whatever she felt like. She just wasn’t my favorite main character. Nick, who’s Bree’s love interest, wasn’t swoon-worthy. I didn’t really care about him. He was a bit two-dimensional. BUT, I was really intrigued by Sel. I wished he played a bigger role in the 1st half of the book. But, despite Nick and Bree being just okay characters, I loved the side characters. Russ, William, Tor, Sarah, Felicity (Lol, whenever I read her name I’m reminded of Felicity from The Arrow), Fitz, Greer, Whitty. There’s a lot, but they were all so awesome. I also wish they all had a bigger role.
“The most important thing you can do in this world, the most necessary thing, is to survive it. You can’t do anything for anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.”
Can I just talk about the diversity in this book? There weren’t many people of color because the real focus was on LGBTQ+ representation.
Also, I think Tracy Deonn did a good job of handling grief. Everyone grieves differently, and the writing really made you feel and understand Bree’s sadness and devastation. In most fantasy or sci-fi books, if the main character loses a friend or family member, they are sad for a couple minutes (or none at all!), and then go on with their adventure. Legendborn didn’t do that. We dived deep into Bree’s sadness, and although I’m lucky enough to not have lost someone close to me, I felt like I could understand what she was going through.
“Because death breaks out connection… death is not a thread. it is the sharp cut that severs us. Death separates us from one another, and yet holds us close. As deeply as we hate it, it love us more.”
I also really liked the world-building and magic system. They were so cool, and even though sometimes my brain couldn’t understand, I really liked it. It was done well and isn’t a huge info-dump which I appreciated. But I feel I didn’t get to fully enjoy it because it was really complicated and the family trees were super confusing.
But, the romance sucked. I didn’t like it. Not at all. Nick and Bree immediately became best friends and everything just clicked for them. I hate Insta-love. It’s unrealistic. It’s strange. It’s unneeded. I wish Bree didn’t get together with anyone at all.
Overall, Legendborn was a good and entertaining book. It didn’t exactly live up to the hype, but I enjoyed it.
“Love is a powerful thing, more powerful than blood, although both run through us like a river.”