Legendborn is the first book in a YA urban fantasy series that puts a unique spin the King Arthur legend, all while dealing with difficult topics such as racism, trauma and grief.
Goodreads Rating: 4.1 stars
My Rating: 5/5 stars
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.
I love the Arthurian legend, it’s one of my favourites. I’m also a sucker for retellings. This book provides such a unique twist on the Arthurian myth. It takes the classic elements that are so familiar and turns them on their head and also infuses them with Southern magic. The result is a detailed, urban fantasy filled with an interesting magic system, secret societies and bad ass characters. There is so much more that makes this book great though, while it is a great Arthurian retelling – it is also so much more than just an Arthurian retelling.
The book also expertly tackles issues of racism and grief. I loved how unique and diverse the characters were. Bree is a sassy, smart and interesting main character. I found her refreshing. Also, as someone who has lost both my mother and grandmother, Bree’s reaction to losing her mother really resonated with me. I appreciate that it was such a focal point of the story. Selwyn and Nick were also strong characters, and I enjoyed many of the supporting characters as well.
I don’t want to talk too much about the plot of the book, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I will just say that I recommend this book for everyone. Particularly if you enjoy familiar legends with a fresh spin, strong, diverse characters, complex magic systems, secret societies and surprising plot twists.
I used the CAWPILE rating system for the first time and it gave me a rating of 5 stars, which is what I would have given it on my own because I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to read the sequel.