Book Review | Legendborn (ARC)

I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.

Yes, I know this ARC is like a year old, but at least I finally read it!

In Legendborn, Bree Matthews is going to Early College at UNC, but she’s still grieving the recent death of her mother. Once she arrives on campus, she vows to make a good start. However, the first night she’s there, she witnesses something impossible—maybe even something magical. Soon, she learns of a secret society that is sworn to protect the world from demons. Bree is wary, but sure that learning more about this Order will be the key to understanding her mother’s death, which she now suspects wasn’t an accident.

This book has been so hyped since it came out, and I’ve really been looking forward to it. I don’t think I adored it as much as some people, but I still really liked this!

Bree is a good, strong, and relatable protagonist, and most of the other characters are also well-written. There are, however, a lot of characters, and it was hard at times to keep track of them. Still, I quite liked Bree, Nick, Alice, and surprisingly even Sel. This is a pretty solid cast, and the interpersonal relationships are complex without being overburdened with drama.

I also found the concept of a secret society on campus really intriguing. Apparently these exist in real life, though of course aren’t populated by magical people descended from the Knights of the Round Table (at least as far as I know). I could have used a glossary, though, because there were a lot of terms and titles to keep up with. Not to mention two kinds of magic, aether and Rootcraft, and I felt the explanations could have been better. Still, it’s a really cool world Deonn has developed.

Despite the solid foundation, it took me a longer time to finish this book than I expected. Something about the pacing or the structure didn’t quite work for me, and I also was really aggravated with the Order for their over-emphasis on bloodlines and lineage. I know the point is sort of that Order’s views are outdated and problematic, but I still think the story buys into that a bit much. That aside, though, by maybe the last third or so, when I really got into the story. After that, though, I flew through it, and the ending of the book was really great! I admit I didn’t see the plot twist involving Bree coming, and it was so cool to watch it unfold. I’m looking forward to the second book! (Which means, yes, I have gotten invested in yet another series, despite my repeated vows to not do that…)

In the end, Legendborn was a great book. It took me a while to find my groove, and the numerous characters and multiple magical terms made it a little difficult, but overall I was thoroughly entertained. The discussions of race and gender in the context of a traditionally white, medieval-inspired Arthurian society were wonderful, and many of the characters were excellent. The action scenes were impressive, the magic confusing but interesting, and the emotions vivid. I can see fans of The Mortal Instruments really latching on to this. But really, anyone who enjoys fantasy, secret underground societies, and strong lead characters should check this out.

Overall rating: 8.7/10

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