Legendborn is described as “A heard-pounding YA fantasy series from debut author Tracy Denonn”. I felt my heart pounding right from the first page which I’ve heard others describe as a little bit of a slower build up. I was instantly hooked and intrigued by Legendborn and I wanted to know more. It quickly became a fantasy murder mystery with an intricate magic system, demons and secret societies.
Content Warnings for Legendborn and This Review:
Parental death, Racism, Alcohol Use, Memory Tampering and Loss.
Summary Review for Legendborn (non spoiler)
Originally, I purchased this on my kindle on an amazon and then got a paperback copy in my illumicrate box. Lots of friends have been recommending Legendborn; the hype is worth it. I am reading in January 2021 as part of a book group to help read books I actually own. My rating for Legendborn is 5/5 Stars.
The writing and pacing is fantastic. The plot makes me think of a sort of cross between Twilight and Shadowhunters. It is mordern/urban fantasy with a hidden world element that I really love. The insights into black lived experience is phenomenal and painful for the main character. This story does have a strong undercurrent of racism and misogyny. There’s a point in the book where it’s kind of said that Bree has two faults; being black and being a woman. I can understand this discrimination for being a woman. The way this was tied into the plot and the civil war is really well done. It made it more real as it dealt with real life issues. I was thrilled with the ending and I can not wait for more.
Where Can I buy Legendborn?
Full Review and Series Predictions (Spoilers)
I was instantly gripped when I started Legendborn with the image of the shimmery police officer talking about the main character, Bree Matthews and her mother’s death. It really drove empathy with the main character straight away and almost effortlessly. I already felt connected emotionally with the character and that’s something I’ve been struggling with for quite a while. It’s always impressive when an Author can connect you like that.
Discussing the start of Legendborn
We quickly learn in the early chapters of Legendbrn that Bree is really intelligent and is going to an early college programme and again right at the start there is talk of cliff diving and I’m just like this is going to be sending my heart in all kinds of places. Then we are introduced to Selwyn Kane who approaches Bree in a bit of a strange way and of course he is all tall, dark and brooding so naturally I want him to be the love interest in this. I’m not sure though. He tries to erase Bree’s memory but it doesn’t work so she stays hidden and watches the magic unfold. She hears a lot of terms she doesn’t understand and so it becomes her mission to find out more.
There is some racism in the start of the book, coming from the police officer and I found that really interesting to read as a white person reading the personal experience of a black person. I obviously can not fully comphrehend a back person’s lived experience with racism but it really gave you an insight into that sort of everyday casual racism and it did shock me.
The themes of racism really show how hurtful offhand comments and snide remarks can be
Because I was in Bree’s headspace hearing her reaction and it just made me so angry that he would speak to her like that – not because I don’t believe it happens but more because I have not witnessed it (white priviledge) and it was just a snippet in this lived experience. Like I was horrified because I have never had those assumptions made about me and I would hope I would never make those assumptions about anyone else (the conversation is doubting Bree getting into the early college programme on merit).
It was evidently and obviously because of her skin colour and even though it was still me reading about an experience rather than living it it made me angry. Again, that’s excellent writing but it’s also drawing on what goes on every day for people of colour and it’s not all about attacks and violence, it’s the sneers and asumptions and just lack of decency when having human contact.
Moving on then after Bree gets in trouble with the Dean she is given a peer mentor and he turns up all bright eyed and smart and is also part of the Legendborn. Nick is all charismatic and has a winning smile. I am not sure on him at the start of the book but maybe it’s because I find the dark and mysterious Selwyn more appealing? Who even knows. We learn that he dennounced his heritage to the Legendborn but he’s going to sponsor Bree to join so she can find out the truth about her Mother’s murder.
Getting some answers and firmly in middle book territory
Basically I got completely enthralled and could not put this book down. Every time I made a prediction about the book I was wrong and I kind of loved that I was. Basically, Bree has to do these trials to get into the secret society which are to test her skills, strength and combat. This book takes place just over a couple of weeks I think – its less than a month I’m sure and so there’s a bit of insta love in there between her and Nick. I’m not keen on Instalove but I think the instant connection is necessary.
Later down the line Bree has a conversation with William, the healer, who says relationships between Scions are basically forbidden because of the risk of mixing the lines and not knowing where the scion true bloodline is. This is vital for the ending as we find out but also will give the author the ability to stop the relationship with Nick.
After the final trial Bree hears Selwyn, the kingsmage sworn to protect Nick is out throwing trees around. Bree goes to check on him because he had the coutesy to offer her some final training so she wouldn’t loose in the combat round too badly. The conversation is heated and angry, things are said that are hurtful and then she goes back to the house, to Nick’s room, to wait for Nick who has gone to pick up his father. At this point we know Nick is the Scion for the Arthur line and he wants Bree to be his squire so he can help her find what happened to her mother.
The build up to the final act
Time passes and Bree dozes off to be woken by Sel returning and slamming doors. She goes to check on him a little while later and then confesses everything and he does agree with her. He ends up helping her to break into Lord Davis, Nick’s Father’s, study to find information about Bree’s mother. They find what they looking for and it reveals so much but Bree’s mothers death was complate accident.
We also find out about Selwyn’s mother which is devestating. Bree leaves really upset and then she can’t really shake out of it for a week or so. She’s supposed to be going to a gala selection dinner where the scions choose their squires and she doesn’t want to go. Her dad takes her out to pancakes and they chat and he gives her an old bracelet from her mother. Bree opens the charm bracelet box back in her room and is sucked into a mage flame memory.
Basically, her mother tells her loads of stuff about why she might be dead. She’s with a younger version of Bree. She confesses lots about the line and their magic and how it’s a cursed part of root magic called bloodcrafting. The curse is that the magic can only live in their bloodline at once, and is passed down mother to daughter.
This usually means that, as the best scion age is 16-21 or something that for the magic to awaken in Bree, her mother had to die. So her mother’s death wasn’t caused by a merlin but instead was just part of the curse from an ancestor. Bree’s mother is talking to someone else, a merlin, who then mesmers child Bree so she won’t remember this speech her mother is giving to teenager Bree.
What will happen next in the Legendborn series?
Here is the final act where everything is revealed about who Bree really is, why the family was cursed, why I think her and Nick’s relationship is doomed. Also, why I think Bree and Sel are going to end up as endgame and I honestly think that is a couple I ship because they have shared pain. There is another connection as well which is just really well done. I think with everything they have and learn they have what it takes to not only change how things are run within the secret society order. Bree and Sel also potentially have the power between them to beat the shadowborn and line of Morgaine. You will have to read it to find out what happens in the end!