• Well Red

Born of Legends

Title: Legendborn

Author: Tracy Deonn Published: 2020

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/McElderry

Rating: ****

Genre: YA, Fantasy


Difficulty: Easy-Medium (for world-building and new terminology)

Pages: 512

Series: Yes, First in the Legendborn Series.

Always spoiler free.

I received Legendborn in a ‘book box’ that I bought from Along the Spine Etsy shop. I choose a mystery fantasy book bundle, so I didn’t know what book I would be receiving. Delightfully, I got Legendborn, which was exciting because I had seen it all over #Bookstagram and it had been getting some high praise.

Bree has come to college at sixteen on a residential program for bright students. Her mother has just died, and while she’s trying to figure out how to deal with that loss, she suddenly experiences the new mysterious world of the Legendborn. All Bree wants to do is work out her place in a world without her mom, but fate has other plans.

Look here’s the thing. I started writing this and I couldn’t remember the main character’s name. I read it…three days ago. I don’t know if that says something about me (I have a very, very real problem with remembering names) or the book. Probably more about me to be honest.

I started the book and didn’t get into it immediately. It felt very similar to lots of other YA books, and it took me quite a while to work out the MC’s age and why she was at college (university). I was waiting for something a bit more original to jump out at me and whisk me away, but I’m not sure I ever actually found that elusive spark. I think in part it may be because the book was world-building to allow for more action and excitement in the rest of the series, but also in part because I’ve read a lot of Arthurian themed fantasy books. This may be a little harsh of a critique, as there are a lot of original details, but the broad strokes of the plot are pretty consistent with a lot of other YA fantasy books. However (however), that ending twist. Loved it.

I think there were too many subplots. Get rid of Alice and the plot…does not change. There did feel like there was a bit too much going on, so it didn’t allow some of the side characters or plots a chance to breath and develop. It also made the pacing very fast, even though the book is not that short.

There are several of the usual cliches in the book, but there is also enough new detail that it doesn’t get too bogged down because of that. Some of the cliches also annoyed me; there are some that I think authors should start to move away from, even though they are fan favourites. I also personally prefer Selwyn to Nick (love a brooding, mysterious male character!).

The book also comments on very real issues that women and young adults like Bree face every day around racism and the history and (often forgotten) place of African Americans in Southern states in the USA. It’s a perspective you don’t often find in fantasy books (comments on real life issues) or when you read all white authors and fantasy books led by white, homogenous characters.

I think it’s a disservice to say that you should read this book to ‘diversify’ your bookshelf, because that’s a bit too much like virtual signalling. It’s not doing the book any justice either. Don’t read this book (if you are white) just because the main character is African American. Read it because it is interesting, well written and you love fantasy and YA novels.

All in all, I read the book in one sitting, which means that I was enjoying it. It got better as it went on. I will read the second (and third, and fourth), but it’s definitely not my favourite YA novel. I connected with others more strongly. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good book! I would definitely say read it if you like fantasy and YA novels.

Well Red Reviews

Would I recommend this book? Yes

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