Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.
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.
Wow! Legendborn will be on my 2020 favorites. This book is so good.
Alice and Bree get into early college and move into a dorm. Bree’s mom died a few months earlier and she’s still dealing with the grief. The girls go to a party and get in trouble. Alice is angry and she and Bree end up spending time apart.
Bree was mesmered to forget what she saw, but she starts remembering things. Not just from this current one, but also from the night her mom died. She’s determined to find out why it happened and thinks her mom’s accident might not have been an actual accident. Bree’s peer mentor, Nick, is part of a society. He realizes that Bree is special because no one remembers after being mesmered. Bree is pulled into a secret society around King Arthur. They fight against the shadowborn and keep onceborn safe. Sel is the Kingsmage that mesmered her. He doesn’t want Bree around and is pretty cranky most of the time. Nick renounced his title, but decides to join back. He brings Bree is to compete to be a Page even though she has no training. The Order uses Merlins’s aether, magic. Sel can manipulate aether to create weapons they can use to fight the Shadowborn (demons). There have been more Shadowborn lately and they know something big is happening. Bree has to learn everything about the Order, be in school, talk to Alice without telling her any of the secrets, and still find out what happened to her mom. The society is very organized and Bree is the first person of color to be there. Racism shows in different ways. She does manage to become friends with some of the group, and she and Nick have a connection that’s turning romantic. Bree finds out more about her mom and her family history.
Scions have been starting to awaken. When that happens, they get all the power from their knight. If Arthur is awakened, that means Camlann has come.
There are a lot of twists and secrets that come out in the book, so I’m going to keep this kind of vague. The pacing of the book is excellent and it’s hard to put down. While this is an Arthur fantasy, it is also a book filled with heavy topics, including racism.
I loved this book and gave it 5 stars. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my review copy.
Warnings for death of a parent, racism, sexism, talk of slavery, talk or rape, talk of abuse.
Have you read Legendborn? Is it on your TBR?