Book Reviews

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn – Book Review

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn Book Cover Opened on a Tablet

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn – Book Details

TITLE – Legendborn

SERIES – Legendborn, book #1

AUTHOR – Tracy Deonn

GENREurban fantasy, fantasy, young adult, retelling

YEAR PUBLISHED – 2020

PAGE COUNT – 512

MY RATING – 4.5 of 5

RATED ON GOODREADS – 4.53 of 5

Initial Thoughts

How do you guys decide what you’ll be reading next?

I am a weird mix of a mood reader, seasonal reader and TBR follower. I have my list of around 200 books that I want to read… you know – someday. Also, I somewhat follow seasons and holidays, but mostly in a sense that some genres I enjoy more at 90°F+ than in the midst of a winter. I’m also trying to follow what new is coming out and what seems to get a lot of attention.

In the end – I just end up grabbing whatever I feel like reading at the moment.

This book – well, it definitely seemed like my cup of tea and something I might enjoy very much. But mostly I picked it up because I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately and just wanted to know what the buzz is all about.

Legendborn is Tracy Deonn’s debut novel. It is a YA urban/low fantasy, which I love. I sometimes even prefer it to high epic fantasy. One – because even though you need to learn about the magic system, you don’t have to spend quite a bit of time learning about a world in which you’ll spend a few weeks at most. And two – when done well, low fantasies give me a feeling it all might be happening in my neighborhood. Which I absolutely love!

Don’t get me wrong – I also love to sink into a nice, long, immersive epic medieval tale. But after a couple of those in a row, a low fantasy with not too complicated magic system (fingers crossed) comes as a real refreshment.

Legendborn also retells the story of King Arthur and his knights (although it is more of a continuation than retelling exactly). And I was really looking forward to see how the author managed to place that legend in the 21st century North Carolina, US.

I had to tumble my TBR quite a bit to push this one to the top. But I’ve heard so many of my favorite bookish people recommending it lately, I just had to know what they all were talking about…

What It Is About

A quote from Legendborn by Tracy Deonn: “Someone I care about is alive but hurt. Someone I like very much is right here in front of me, asking me to sit with him. It dawns on me that if I ignore that, or forget how important that is, then I truly will make the shadows my home.”

Grieving the death of her mother, Bree Matthews enrolls in an early college program for high school students at UNC Chapel Hill. But the very first night on the campus, she witnesses a magical attack that makes her question everything she knows about this university, her mother’s death and even her own abilities.

To try and get some answers, Bree joins the “Legendborns” – a secret society of students who are direct descendants of King Arthur’s knights. These people are the only ones who stand between demons and oblivious students.

And now, with a magical war threatening on the horizon and with her own powers growing stronger and harder to control, Bree has to decide how far she is willing to go to find the truth…

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn – My Review

Even though I’ve heard so many praises about this book, I still managed to get surprised pretty much from the very beginning. That prologue, the way shock and grief were described – perfection!

Seriously – how so many debut novels lately manage to look as if they were written by experienced writers? Shouldn’t author’s first works be a bit more on a try-and-learn level? Like a practice run? Does Tracy Deonn have a stack of unpublished novels somewhere in her drawers?

Maybe it really is quite usual that some authors just nail it on the first go. I’ve just recently read The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter (another debut) and I loved it so much! Still, I didn’t think I’d be that lucky twice in a row, but here we are.

(I’m pretty sure The Poppy War is also a debut and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf for quite a while now. Maybe I should prioritize it?)

Anyways… Back to Legendborn.

Tracy Deonn’s voice felt very fresh and original. Great writing style. Great dialogs. Pretty solid character work. And an exciting, fast-paced story that makes you keep turning the pages.

There were many, many things about this book that I absolutely loved. But I’m not gonna lie – there were also a few things I had issues with.

My biggest problem was not being able to fully connect with the main character. However, I don’t think that that was so much the book’s fault as much as my own personal preferences.

Bree is an interesting character to follow. She is stricken by grief and in a lot of pain. But she is also strong, fierce, brave, incredibly smart and more often than not she manages to get things her way.

Honestly, I wish she had at least something she was terrible at. Nothing huge – maybe just one class she sucks at. Or if she made some significant mistake. Or fail every now and then in her endless pursuit of discovering what happened to her mother.

You know – an Achilles’ heel. Just little something to make her feel more real and relatable.

I also wish we got to know Bree a bit better outside of the main string of events in this story. She must be going to classes and do stuff, but we don’t get to see much of it.

I guess what I really needed was a secondary plot line. There’s practically not a scene or character that was not connected with either the Order or Rootcraft. Getting to know Bree even a little bit outside of all that mess would, I think, make her a bit more realistic to me.

I also had a few other issues with this book. From things not quite adding up and people acting and reacting the way that didn’t feel quite convincing to the protagonist achieving results that were way above her skills.

I’m trying to avoid spoilers here. But… Some decisions some characters made. The way they rushed into some stuff. How easily some people were persuaded to do some things despite them having strong reasons not to do it…

Those things would always make me pause and think – yeah, right. But again, that happened only in a few instances. And these were all minor things, especially considering how great the rest of the story was.

And here’s the thing – this is one of the books where suspending your disbelief really pays off. Because the things that were done well – they were done above and beyond anything I could expect. Plus, there were many, many more amazing things about Legendborn than those I had problems with.

Compared to many other YA fantasies I’ve read so far, Legendborn is undeniably a greater quality book. You can see the amount of work and research that went into it, ultimately making the story more fleshed out and by extension – more enjoyable.

I was going back and forth, considering how to rate this book. Looking at it from this perspective, I even might have given it 5 stars. But, I do remember feeling pretty frustrated on several instances while reading it. So, I’m keeping it at 4 stars for now. But, I can see myself changing my rating on a reread.

Looking forward to the sequel…

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