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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.6 out of 5
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  • The Best Arthurian Retelling Yet!

    Legendborn is a modern take on Arthurian legend and elemental magic with an infusion of Black American history. After losing her mother in a car accident, Bree Matthews is conflicted. The loss has changed her in more ways than she can express or understand, and she wants nothing more than to throw up a wall and move on as if nothing has changed. Bree and her best friend Alice are accepted into an Early College (EC) program at the Chapel Hill campus of UNC at just 16, and as it turns out, this is exactly where Bree needs to be in order to understand the changes she's gone through since her mother's passing. She quickly becomes entangled in a secret society of students called Legendborn, descendants of King Arthur and his knights and their various squires and supporters, who defend the campus and surrounding area from unseen demonic threats. But Bree can see them. Is it possible that her mom saw them, too? Did she see something she wasn't supposed to? With the help of a Legendborn named Nick, Bree is determined to find out what really happened to her mother and what it all has to do with this secret society. I've been doing a lot of ARC and beta reading of Arthurian lore stories lately, but this is by far the best one! It's a fresh take on the legend that was desperately needed with very compelling characters. It also confronts racism and xenophobia. As the only black page in this year's page class, Bree has single-handedly made this year's page class "the most diverse" the chapter has ever seen. She's mistaken for "the help" on multiple occasions and always corrects that assumption with cutting whit. In the beginning, there is a police officer who assumes she's made it into UNC on a "needs-based" admission and he reports that she "had an attitude" for telling him she got in on merit. The importance and prevalence of slave history intertwined with the history of both the campus and the Legendborns are integral in this book. These things are presented frequently enough to continuously remind the reader what the Black experience is like in the American south today and through history without making it the one and only plot point. This book has a lot to say about racism and a Black girl's experience in today's world, and this is handled well in a way that can be felt and understood by readers of all backgrounds. Bree is not the only diverse character, either! We have a whole range of sexualities on campus, there are other black women teaching Bree about their own understanding of this magic she's inherited, and her best friend Alice is a lesbian of Asian descent. This book also perfectly illustrates the very real reality that some (most?) people experience an abrupt disruption and distancing with their high school friends upon graduating and entering post-secondary education. The magic system in this book is very well thought out and we get explanations of how it works as Bree learns what's going on. Getting different explanations of the same magic from different perspectives (the Legenborn's aether, the Rootcrafters' root, etc.) is also fascinating and ties into the black experience in a white world storyline. We do get some familiar YA tropes that may or may not be everyone's favourite thing to read, such as instalove (remember the timeline of this book is only a couple of weeks), a surprise love triangle situation that adds little to the story, and the whole "chosen one" aspect. (To be fair, can you avoid the chosen one in an Arthurian story? I don't think so.) This book is advertised as YA and since the main characters are just 16 years old that does seem to fit. With that said, being that it takes place on a college campus, it also feels NA (New Adult) and feels more relatable to older readers like me (32) than a high school story. I think this book will appeal to a much wider audience than most YA titles. I can't wait for more from this author, and I hope I'm correct in assuming that this book is setting up a series. It certainly feels like it! I rate this title 5 stars out of 5, and I will be singing it from the rooftops for quite some time! I recommend this book to everyone, and I even think it would be a good introduction to fantasy as a genre for those who are looking to break into reading fantasy. Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for granting me ARC access to this title.

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    34 person found this review helpful

    34 people found this review helpful

    34 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • A phenomenal reimagined retelling of Arthurian...

    Deonn’s phenomenal retelling of the Arthurian Legend is a must read of 2020! And, I am not just saying that as a huge fan of this treasured tale. I was completely unprepared for how this book would spin the proverbial “round table” and everything I thought I knew about Arthurian Legend would be redefined in the most phenomenal way. Set in an urban backdrop, Deonn tells a story that brooches overwhelming grief, inherited trauma, the affects of colonization and slavery. The character development is beautifully showcased through the relationships and growth of our 16-years-old heroine. I needed the sequel as of yesterday!

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    29 person found this review helpful

    29 people found this review helpful

    29 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • I loved this book!

    Wow! Just finished reading this book and I am already anticipating the second book in this series, next year is too long to wait! I loved the whole concept of this story and how Tracy was able to weave a modern day telling of 'The Knights of the Round Table' while including real life situations, like dealing with the death of a parent and never having met or known your grandparents, struggling to fit in when you aren't welcome, mental health issues, and of course just a little angsty teen romance. Super excited to read more books from Tracy in the future and I highly recommend this book to everyone.

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    13 person found this review helpful

    13 people found this review helpful

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Awesome read

    My Recommendation Great story about love, loss, family and belonging. Tracy does an excellent job with the story and the characters. And the twist at the end is great. Can definitely see her turning this into a series. After Bree’s mother is killed in a car accident, she leaves her home to go away to early admittance into college. This is the same place that her mother went to school. On the first night on campus she convinces her friend Alice to attend a party. While there, they see some strange things and end up getting driven back to campus by the local sheriff. The next morning Alice doesn’t remember the strange incident, but Bree does. She goes in search of answers and finds the Legendborn. Soon she is immersed in their world of demons and magic, but not all is as it seems. #legendborn #netgalley #indigoemployee 5🌟

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    5 person found this review helpful

    5 people found this review helpful

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • So richly woven

    Myth, ancestry, magic, demons, and secrets unite to form an exciting read, which draws in and holds tons of surprises. Sixteen-year-old Bree has just lost her mother, and she hopes that by entering the pre-college program with her best friend away from home might be the distance she needs. On the first day, she already runs into trouble as she goes against better judgement, is picked up by the cops, and comes face to face with a demon, hunters, and magic. When forgotten memories begin to pop up, she realizes that the same type of magic has been used on her at her mother's death. Now, she's determined to get to the bottom of what really happened, even if it draws her into a world, in which she doesn't belong, and has her facing monsters worse than demons. This is a rich novel and well-written in many ways. The world building is strong, the characters fleshed out, and there are themes such as racism, gender identity, friendship, death, and such wrapped up in there, too. Add magic, a traditional myth, spirits, power plays, world destruction...and well, it's clear that there's more than a little going on. The author uses every page to dig in deep and weave her story web as intricately and tightly as can be. Especially the ending packs an extreme twist, and that sends the entire plot flying in an unpredictable direction, which works marvelously. If book two was out, I would have already grabbed it up. The main characters, Bree, has a lot of depth. She's got an attitude and is a bit prickly, but she's dealing with the fresh parting of her mother, and seeing how she's discovering all these secrets and hidden dealings, won't be buttercups and sunshine. She is determined and ready to stand up for what she believes, which makes her easy to root for. On the other hand, she makes rash decisions, is headstrong and carries an attitude. But considering her situation and age, it's understandable and also makes her relatable to a certain point. I did have a problem with her supposed age of 16 because she doesn't act it. She's on a college campus, describes those around her 'guys' as manly, and...nothing fits on that front. But that's a small detail to be easily shoved aside, since it's not an issue in the book, anyway. There is a ton of richness in the world of the Legendborn. The author dribbles in the background bit by bit, which is necessary since it is so intricate and different. Much of this comes across well, and with the addition of Bree's own side (which I won't go more into due to spoilers), this is a complicated mix. Still, there are holes in the magic explanations and lack of reasons for the entire demon-battling origins with enough terms thrown-in to make things muddled and missing, at times. It's not that any space is wasted in the 500 pages. It's simply that there is that much woven into this tale. As long as the reader doesn't think too much and lets some spots slide over, especially those first chapters, then it's not an issue. I do hope, though, this is revisited in the upcoming books because I'm so curious and would enjoy understanding more. And on to the romance: It's a tending triangle with a bit of insta-love but not completely. The guys are pretty interesting (one more than the other), and there is tension on that end to make it very unclear where things are headed. The build-up of chemistry is missing a little, but there are more books on the way, which leaves room to expand. I am hoping that one end uses much more build-up and depth because killing to love isn't an easy twist and needs reason and time. But this can all turn out wonderfully. It's now about the wait to see. All in all, it's a well-woven read. I enjoyed all of the various directions and how well they come together. As said, I'm keeping my eye open for the next book's release and hoping this continues in the direction it needs to make it even better. I received a complimentary copy and enjoyed quite a bit about this one.

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    4 person found this review helpful

    4 people found this review helpful

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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