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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.

511 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 15, 2020

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About the author

Tracy Deonn

10 books8,719 followers
Tracy Deonn is a writer and 2nd gen fangirl. She grew up in North Carolina, where she devoured fantasy books and Southern food in equal measure. After earning two degrees from UNC-CH, Tracy worked in live theater, video games, and K-12 education. When she’s not writing, Tracy panels at SFF conventions, reads fanfic, arranges doggy playdates, and keeps an eye out for ginger-flavored everything.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 21,599 reviews
Profile Image for jenny✨.
578 reviews841 followers
October 30, 2020
⚔️⚔️⚔️ 9/15/2020: THIS. BOOK. IS. OUT! ⚔️⚔️⚔️

Before we dive in, let me ask you this:

Did Clary ever have to think about the dangers of being picked up by police while at a party?

Would Jude ever have been questioned about the legitimacy of her presence at an Early College program?

When America was selected as Maxon’s queen (disclaimer: I’m just pulling this out of a hunch, I never got past book 1 lol), did his people ever hurl racial slurs at her?

Yeah, I didn't think so. The gutting (and gripping) thing about Legendborn is that this is Bree Matthews’ reality—alongside demon hordes, a magical element in the air called "aether," sinfully hot sorcerers, and a secret society filled with modern-day descendants of King Arthur and his knights.


This book is fucking awesome and without a doubt one of my favourite reads of this year. Trust me: YOU NEED TO GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA fantasy that's really enthralled me and shaken up the formulaic script I’ve come to associate with the genre. Legendborn wasn’t perfect, but boy does it bring a wholly novel story to the (Round T)able—a heart-pounding urban fantasy that tackles grief, inherited trauma, legacies of colonization and chattel slavery, and being a Black woman in the South, redefining the legends we thought to be set in (Excalibur’s) stone.

The reason I’ve given this book 4 stars and not 5 is because—despite its fascinating world-building and important, moving subject matter—it still leaned heavily on several YA clichés that grated on me. I’m really conflicted in my reconciling of these contrived bits with the parts that were transcendent and powerful and heart-hurting. I know this sounds contradictory, but that's exactly what I’m feeling: torn. The meh parts of this book were meh, but the good parts were PHENOMENAL.

Duality’s a thing, y’all, and Legendborn is it.

For now, I’m just going to say this: I implore you to read Legendborn. Deonn will reshape YA urban fantasy as we know it with this series, and I cannot put into words how excited I am to read the next book.


So that was my TLDR version for the folks who’re here to get a sense of whether this book is worth your time (it is). If you’re desiring more of the nitty gritty, scroll on!

16yo Bree Matthews has not been the same since her mother died three months ago. As she walks the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill as a student in the prestigious Early College program, her mother’s alma mater seems to abound with barely concealed secrets—and Bree's convinced that one of them will shed light on why her mother died.

Then comes the night Bree meets Selwyn Kane—all dark curls, golden eyes, killer jawline—and witnesses him slay a demon, or isel, to be precise. Following this trail of deadly breadcrumbs leads Bree to the Legendborn: descendants of Arthur and thirteen of his knights, who vanquish demons to protect humankind. They're connected to her mother—and Bree—in ways she'll never expect, and to find out, she's going to compete in their trials. With the help of Nick Davis (think smokin' golden-boy-next-door), Bree will join their ranks.

But what she discovers is unfathomably bigger than the Legendborn. And as Bree grapples with her grief, she must reconcile these new revelations with everything she thought she knew about her mom.

Will she stay loyal to the boys she's come to love, even if it means serving an Order that negates her very existence? Or will Bree somehow forge her own way?

There's a lot going on in this story, and we readers have to fumble alongside Bree as she encounters it all for the first time. Here's a quick summary of the positions within the strict hierarchy of the Order of the Round Table:

The Legendborn are demon-hunters descended from the original knights of the Round Table. The most important member of each family (or Line) is the Scion—a person between the ages of 16-22 who can be "Called" by their knightly ancestor. When you're Called, you gain the preternatural powers that the knight had; for example, Scions of the Line of Gawain gain the ability to heal others. Scions can manipulate aether—a magical element in the air—into weapons, and they're trained from birth for their roles: however, not everyone will be Called. There's a rank order in which the knights Call their descendants (e.g., Line of Bors will always be called before Line of Lancelot) and the top-ranked families are hardly ever Called because the lower families can usually handle the demon threats (and, no spoilers, but if every Scion were to be Called... it'd be a bad thing). When a Scion dies or turns 23, their title passes to the next eligible member in their family, akin to succession to the British throne.

The Onceborn are what the Shadowhunters call "mundanes"—humans who aren't part of the Legendborn families, protected from the truth about demons and magic. The only Onceborns who know about this world are Vassals, who have served the Legendborn for generations in exchange for money, power, the works. Vassals may be initiated into the Order as Pages (lowest ranked in the Order hierarchy, but still one step up from Vassal) who can then compete, once a year, for the coveted spot of Squire. Squires are magically bonded to Scions who have been Called, and they gain the powers of that Scion; the Squire's duty is to protect their Scion at all costs.

Finally, we have the Merlins, or sorcerers of the Order. Merlins can use aether to do all manner of things, from tracking and incapacitating demons, to sensing Gates (portals that allow demons to enter the human plane), to manipulating, or mesmering, people's memories. The Kingsmage—like Selwyn Kane—is the most powerful Merlin of their generation, and has a special bond with the leader of the Round Table.

➟ The diversity of rep.
Bree's Black and her best friend Alice Chen is lesbian and Taiwanese-American. Even though the Order is just about fully white, there are two bi characters, a gay character, a wlw relationship, and a non-binary character. There’re also several other Black characters who were pretty awesome, including Bree's dad and her therapist.

Bree's banter is 10/10. I loved the scenes featuring her and Alice (they have this thing where one of them quotes a certain movie and the other person's like "Did you just [movie franchise] me!??" and the first person's like "No, I [specific film from said franchise]'d you!" and it's freakin' adorable), and also her back-and-forth with the boys. Not to mention, Bree drops some FIRE comebacks against the bigots who come at her throughout the novel.

➟ There's this epic fight scene at the end that made my heart race. It ties into the book's big twist and was seriously unputdownable.

So much capitalization. Anything to do with the worldbuilding was slapped with a capital letter—Bree was Spelled to take an Oath to the Order so she can't break the Law against the Legendborn Lines even though she already has the Sight. Nothing inherently wrong with this, it just felt like a juvenile world-building move.

INSTALOVE. So at first I didn't think Bree and her love interest were going to exhibit instalove—my most DETESTED of tropes—but they kinda did! I mean, this book only takes place over the span of 2-3 weeks, and by the end of that time they've fallen deeply in love with each other (and not just any love; it's an I-will-guard-your-life-with-my-own type of thing). There's a sort-of explanation for why this might be the case, but it's still instalove in my books.

über hot love interests and a love triangle I'm not altogether convinced was necessary. I am ALL for angst but wasn't the biggest fan of Bree being drawn to both guys. Also, I'm still waiting for the day when YA gives up the sharp-jaw-gorgeous-cheekbones-broad-shoulders-silky-hair love interest intros.

Chosen One tropeyness. Oof. We're constantly told that everything about Bree defies reason, physics, all known magic—she’s UNLIKE ANYONE EVER BEFORE HER and has powers innumerable. I'm more than a little sick of reading MCs who are singled out as special snowflakes, but that could just be me.

I expected more from the platonic friendships department!! Her best friend Alice plays such a minor role in the story, and in the beginning I was actually a little fed up because Bree and Alice were getting into the dumbest fights (that felt like they were only there to alienate Bree and further the plot). I loved Alice and Bree together, though; despite that rocky start, they have such a pure and good relationship—I just wish we'd seen more of it!

As far as I'm concerned, this more than makes up for the tropes I mentioned above. Legendborn doesn't simply acknowledge what it means to be Black in America, or to be any sort of different from the cishet white norm. It head-on confronts modern-day anti-Blackness and its roots in the nation's history of colonialism, disenfranchisement, and violence. It celebrates and champions the ways in which Black folk survive, resist, and thrive.

I really loved the revelation that , a clear statement about questioning hegemonic paradigms, honouring our blood and our land, and understanding that resources are neither infinite nor designed for human exploitation.

Also, two scenes in this book stuck out for me in particular. In the first, Bree is drawn into the memories of a Black woman from the nineteenth century, and they talk about colonizer magic built on the blood of slaves and Indigenous peoples. In the second, which reads like verse amidst the prose, . The revelations from this turn out to be both devastating and utterly uplifting.


Whew. If you've read all the way down to here, I thank and congratulate you!

Bottom line for this book: I loved it and I really think you will, too.

Huge thank-you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for allowing me the privilege of reading this book as an ARC. All thoughts are my own!
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
February 4, 2021
This took me approximately a million years to listen to the audiobook, but that's not the book's fault that's just me being lazy. But this was such an interesting and layered fantasy story. It dealt with grief and trauma very well, in a way I'd never seen before. The world that was built up totally captivated me. Despite taking me a long time to read, I think that the pacing did seem consistent as there was pretty much constant action, even in moments of inaction. The start of a super cool series I think!
Profile Image for chan ☆.
1,072 reviews51.5k followers
January 8, 2021
the best book i've read in a really long time. 2020 was sort of a fail on all fronts for me, so finding such a good book so early in 2021 feels like a good omen.

Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews176k followers
December 31, 2022
This was so good?! My only complaint is that I feel like I don't have a full understanding for the world, but everything outside of that was solid. I loved the characters so much! We have so many solid dynamics and fun interactions throughout the story. I'm definitely eager to see where things go in book two!
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,616 reviews10.7k followers
September 13, 2023
Hot dang, this book is incredible. That's how you write a YA Contemporary Fantasy!

((applause for dayssss))

Believe the hype, Legendborn is next level. I am so impressed with Tracy Deonn and cannot wait for the next book.

I would recommend going into this knowing as little as possible; just let the story wash over you. It's complex and layered. The characters are wonderful and the magic system is incredibly creative.

It's everything I look for in a Modern Urban Fantasy!!!

The mystery of it kept me completely engaged. I couldn't put it down once I started.

With the heavy fan-girling out of the way, let's get to the most serious question...


Although, truth be told, I will probably read this again prior to the sequel. There is a lot of information packed in this novel and I need to have it fresh in my brain in order to continue.

P.S. If you enjoyed this, you may want to check out Amari and the Night Brothers as well!!!
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
2,085 reviews5,069 followers
September 28, 2020
Where should I even begin?!? Listen, I’m quite familiar with the legend of King Arthur but never in my life have I seen it done in this way. There is so much to unpack in this novel. The character development, the plot development, the spectacular writing, the university history woven into every single page, the connections I felt to the Black history discussed. Everything was done in such a fast paced and interesting manner that gave me such a connection to the story as a whole.

While this is being compared to the Mortal Instruments, I find that this novel is capable of standing on its own. There is a complexity and rich history that I found in this book that I didn’t necessarily find in TMI. The world building is intense and I’m a stickler for good world building. Deonn is careful in crafting a complex world while still explaining certain nuances without revealing too much to the reader. She even took the time to include pronunciation guides within the heart of the text (I loved this!). In each and every chapter there was another layer pulled away revealing so much about the world and about Bree. There is this discussion about fantastical worlds and abilities through the lens of Black and a White people and that even in these settings, Black individuals were forced to hide their abilities for fear of persecution. There’s a dichotomy of this world that Bree must attempt to navigate which in my opinion speaks to how Black people must function in predominately White arenas even if it is just a fantasy. This is especially true to those of us that attend PWIs instead of HBCUs. Trying to navigate those experiences can be challenging. We definitely see this conflict exhibited in Bree and some of the challenges she faces when she attempts to work with the Legendborn.

Speaking of Bree, I loved her. I connected with her. I felt for her. All of this happens while she still is attempting to process her mother’s death. And while a lot of this is an exploration of attempting to figure out what happened to her mother, a great portion of this is an examination of grief. I, myself, have not felt the pain of losing a parent but Deonn made me empathetic to Bree and her journey. There is so much to be said about the conversations regarding mental health and how Bree does and does not process her trauma. There’s a lot to be said about the Black communities treatment of mental health. Honestly, as I’m writing this I’m still amazed at how seamlessly Deonn was able to weave in so many different aspects into just the character development. There are other main and side characters that are super diverse in race, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexuality. I loved and I mean loved that it was so casual. It wasn’t added for the sake of adding it. It was representative of the norm. It didn’t move the plot. It didn’t change anything. Deonn was simply allowing her characters to be themselves. It was brilliant.

Hands down this is one of the best fantasies of 2020. And I mean truly one of the best. I’m honestly still trying to gather my thoughts but my goodness this book was pure brilliance with amazing writing, a fast plot, and such fun characters. I learned so much about root magic and it’s connection to our ancestors. I mean I just learned a heck of a lot and I love when books do that. And just wait for the twist and turns. Haha. Expect nothing. Don’t think you know anything. If you haven’t checked out this book please please please make sure you give it a try!
Profile Image for emma.
1,869 reviews54.7k followers
August 19, 2022
there's that whole cliché about how doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, but actually when it comes to me reading YA fantasy over and over and expecting to still like it, it's called "being brave."

and in this case...i'm thrilled to announce i've been rewarded.

i mean, kinda. this feels like the best possible take on a cliché - it's fun and readable, but the love triangles and the confusing magic and the instalove and the dialoguey info dumps are all still there.

so i guess it's not that surprising that i really loved the first bit of this, but it took me 3 separate instances of picking it up to get through it.

the friendship and father relationship were kinda left by the wayside, and, again, there was both instalove and a love triangle, the two laziest ways to insert romance...but the mother relationship was great.

does it feel like we could have accomplished more in 544 pages? sure. but this is an incredibly long YA fantasy and i managed to finish it, and that says a lot in this day and age!!!

bottom line: yay, basically!

tbr review

me: i think i've outgrown YA fantasy
also me: time to add every single hyped book to my tbr
Profile Image for Bhavya .
479 reviews903 followers
October 17, 2022
“Don’t make your life about the loss. Make it about the love.”

~Rating- 1.25 stars~

(Content/ Trigger Warnings)

-Mention of most of these in the review-

Legendborn, by Tracy Deonn is the first book in the Legendborn series. This was a book I was hoping to enjoy and adore due to all the hype, but sadly I did not like it and was disappointed.

Before I explain why I disliked the book, I wanted to emphasize what I loved. I loved the portrayal of grief with the main character Bree and the representation in the book. Bree was a very compelling main character to read about. I also loved the writing style, and I have an entire google doc full of annotated notes.

However as a whole, I did not like this book and I want to talk about why. I understand why this is so well loved, but this is my personal opinion so please do not hate on me for it.

"Some truths only tragedy can teach. The first one I learned is that when people acknowledge your pain, they want your pain to acknowledge them back. They need to witness it in real time, or else you’re not doing your part."

Bree Matthews is grieving the death of her mother and wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill is the perfect escape for Bree, until she witnesses a magical attack on her very first night at the campus. When a Merlin tries to erase Bree's memories of the night, it somehow doesn't work.

“Typical anger can hinder or help. But the kind that burns in your gut? That’s fury. And fury is meant to be used.”

Bree discovers that there is a secret society called Legendborn, which contains students who hunt demons down. Soon Bree recalls some of her memories regarding her mothers death were erased, and she suspects her mothers death was more than just a car accident. Bree aims at finding the truth about her mothers death, and 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’m a daughter whose mother was taken from her.
Acceptance, I decide, is for people whose parents just died with no reason. True accidents or illness. Acceptance is not possible for murder.”

The plot of the book is alright. My e-copy consisted of 630 pages (I could not find that edition) and it took around 250 pages for what was mentioned in the blurb to actually start happening. In fact, I'd consider the blurb and my plot summary to be a minor spoiler because of this, but there wasn't another way to explain the plot.

"Where do we begin?"
"At the beginning."

I found the plot to be slow and the pacing in some parts of the book was slightly off. While the beginning was very interesting, the mystery behind Bree's mothers death couldn't hold my attention for long. The middle was even more slow, where the plot was not progressing in any way. Although the plot's main focus was still finding the truth of Bree's mothers death, I felt it wasn't a strong enough storyline for a 630 page book.

“Love is a powerful thing, more powerful than blood, although both run through us like a river.”

This book felt like The Mortal Instruments meets The Hunger Games in some ways (apologies for the comparison to two white books, I only meant some common tropes were similar), but I think Bree is a very different character than Clary and Katniss and this book can still stand on its own without the comparison. Even then, I enjoyed both of those series a lot more than this book, as those books had a stronger plot than Legendborn.

“And then I’m in the air, leaving the earth and trees far behind me.”

There were some plot twists in this book which were well written, and were foreshadowed, but unfortunately they didn't have much of an impact on me as I wasn't invested enough in anything that was happening. The ending was great, and I am hoping the sequel would be a better read.

“But when your entire world is shattering, a little bit of magic is… nothing.”

The entire world building of this book comprised of info-dumping. I am still confused about the world and everything went over my head. While I always despise info-dumping, I can tolerate it in small doses. This book has pages upon pages of information that is dumped on us. At one point in the book, 10 pages of the world and how it functions is explained. That is too much for me to excuse.

A lot of words like 'Shadowborn' and 'Onceborn' are capitalized throughout the book, and I still do not know what they mean. Usually in fantasy books where the main character is new to the world, we understand the world along with the main character. But in this case, Bree seemed to understand everything about the world instantly, while I was completely confused. I am sad I missed out on it, as I actually felt the world was properly thought over.

Though I am not that well-versed in the King Arthur legend, I liked the concept of the book and the new take on it. It was refreshing to see.

“I don’t cry for my mother’s death. Or for myself. I cry because these strangers in the hospital—the nurse, the doctor, the police officer—don’t know my mother, and yet they were closest to her when she died. And when your people die, you have to listen to strangers speak your nightmare into existence.”

I really appreciated the writing. As I said before, Bree's grief was so well written. Her pain was raw and it really hit home. The rest of the writing was good as well, and for a debut novel I think it was incredible. I am looking forward to reading more books by Tracy Deonn.

There were some things that I didn't like about the writing, namely all the flashback and memory scenes. While I think they were impactful, 1st person flashback and memories do not work for me. I like it more it in 3rd person, but that is just a personal preference.

I am being very nitpicky, but we also have "I release the breath I’d been holding", which is better than the classic 'I let out a breath I didn't know I'd been holding', but I am finding this sentence or variations of in every other YA book I am reading these days. To each to to their own, I suppose, though I want to know if I was the only one who was annoyed by this.

“Who’s the literary nerd? The quoter or the one who recognizes the quote?”

The characters of this book were ok. Bree was definitely the most well developed, but I didn't really like the rest of the characters. I wish the book focused a little more on the side-characters as even though they played a role in this book, they mostly faded into the background.

◙ Bree Mathews

“My father says focus is death’s most precious gift.”
“Death doesn’t give gifts.”

Bree is definitely one of the best first person perspectives I've read in YA. I liked her POV a lot. She is fierce and brave and doesn't let anything break her. Her determination to find out the truth about her mothers death and her love for her mother was beautiful to see.

“Because death breaks our connection! I want to scream. Death is not a thread. It is the sharp cut that severs us. Death separates us from one another, and yet it holds us close. As deeply as we hate it, it loves us more”

I like that even though she is strong, she still has her flaws. Bree is an actual strong female protagonist, and I wish we see more characters like her in books.

“For the first time, I wonder if maybe Sel’s right and I am born of shadows. Or maybe those shadows aren’t who I am, but I keep finding my way to them anyway.”

◙ Selwyn Kane

Sel was an intriguing character. I wasn't interested in him in the beginning but as we got to know more about him I liked him more.

“He can’t be more than eighteen, but something about his features doesn’t belong to a teenager—the cut of his jaw, the line of his nose. His stillness.”

He is a typical ‘brooding love-interest with a tragic past’, a trope that I am sadly sick of reading. Either way, he wasn't completely bad.

◙ Nick Davis

I liked Nick a lot more than I liked Sel. I found his character to be a bit more relatable.

“This boy is not part of the plan. Not the beginning, middle, or anywhere in between.”

He also fits the 'goofy, sweet male love interest' stereotype, but this is a trope I actually don't mind seeing in books. I am curious to see where his arc goes.

“How does this boy navigate my emotions like a seasoned sailor, finding the clear skies and bringing them closer, when all I seem able to do is hold fast to the storms?”

The romance of the book was nice. The love triangle is definitely unnecessary, but for once its not completely obvious who the main character will end up with. I do not mind if Bree ends with Nick or Sel, but then again I am unfortunately not that invested to really care.

“You’re not a damsel to me, Bree. You’re a warrior. You’re strong and you’re beautiful and you’re brilliant and brave.”

I must say that the romance was very insta-lovey, and not just in the 'i-love-you-even-though-i-met-you-days-ago' way, but more like the 'i-will-do-anything-to-protect-you-and-even-give-up-my-life-for-you-because-i-love-you-so-much-even-though-i-met-you-days-ago' way which is more annoying and also a bit unrealistic. There is a reason for this provided in the end, but its still insta-love in my eyes. However, I still liked it a bit and thought it was sweet.

“You are remarkable.”

In short, Legendborn was a read that did not work for me primarily due to the amount of YA clichés it had. This book had all the tropes and things in books I personally hate- love triangles, insta-love, info-dumping, flashbacks and memories in first person, side-characters that fade in the background, lack of focus on platonic friendships, brooding male love interest with a tragic past, etc- all combined in one, which took away my enjoyment. But apart from this, it also has great powerful portrayal of grief, a strong black female protagonist and great writing. I would recommend it if you can look past the tropes. ( Edit-17/10/2022: , I realized I didn't mention this before so I'm adding an edit, but I absolutely acknowledge that while these tropes common in white cishet non-disabled stories, they are still lacking in books with BIPOC, LGBTQIAP+ and disability rep, and I do not intend to dispute that in my review at all.)

“Growing up Black in the South, it’s pretty common to find yourself in old places that just… weren’t made for you. Maybe it’s a building, a historic district, or a street. Some space that was originally built for white people and white people only, and you just have to hold that knowledge while going about your business. (...) You gain an awareness. Learn to hear the low buzzing sound of exclusion. A sound that says, We didn’t build this for you. We built it for us. This is ours, not yours.”

Buddy Read with my team The Avid Readers at The Never Ending TBR.

Review written on 10th July, 2021.

DISCLAIMER-All opinions on books I’ve read and reviewed are my own, and are with no intention to offend anyone. If you feel offended by my reviews, let me know how I can fix it.

How I Rate-
1 star- Hardly liked anything/ was disappointed
2 star- Had potential but did not deliver/ was disappointed
3 stars- Was ok but could have been better/ was average / Enjoyed a lot but something was missing
4 stars- Loved a lot but something was missing
5 stars- Loved it/ new favourite


This was disappointing. Really really disappointing. I had such high expectations, but this just didn’t work for me. 1 star maybe. Review to come.
Profile Image for Samantha.
441 reviews16.8k followers
January 25, 2021
tw: death of a parent; generational trauma (depictions of slavery, abuse, rape); gore; possession; demons; racism and micro-aggressions

This was one of the most outstanding debuts I have ever read. I went into this book fairly blind but knowing it was getting some hype, and that is well worth it. Even during a reading slump, I was able to experience the majesty of this story. Deonn combines fantasy elements that I never would have considered going together masterfully, while also weaving those fantasy elements in with the very real issues of grief, racism, oppression, and heritage. There are so many lines in here that are a punch to the chest. What initially seems like it could be more of a cookie-cutter YA story ends up being so much more.

Initially, some of the romance elements I wasn't sure about, but as the story progressed (and with elements at play revealed in the ending), I'm invested.

I cannot wait for the rest of the very promising series.
Profile Image for Marzuqa.
63 reviews57 followers
January 12, 2021
Wow, I did not expect this to be so intense and deep. This is such a robust and gripping modern day fantasy tale. So thoroughly entertaining. This author deserves a lot of acclaim for the complex and intricate world building alone. The unconventional perspective on fantasy was so refreshing.
I was honestly shaken multiple times through the book due to the plot twists and bombshells, which kept me riveted.
Can see this easily becoming a new favorite among fantasy lovers.
Profile Image for Kevin (Irish Reader).
274 reviews3,935 followers
November 30, 2020
3.5 Stars

I really thought I was going to love this book more than I did, but unfortunately it was a little bit of a disappointment for me. Don’t get me wrong though, I still enjoyed it, but I was predicting a 5 star read!

The things I loved about this book was the characters, such as Bree (main character), as I really enjoyed how she dealt with her grief and how strong she was, as a character. I also really liked the romance! This book has a love triangle, which I usually don’t love that much, but I actually quite like how it was done in this. I don’t even know which pairing I prefer! I also really liked how racism and Slavery was discussed in the book, I think the way it was integrated into the story was great! The ending of the book was also another thing I loved, as I didn’t see the twist coming!

However, my main issue with this book was how hard it was for me to understand the Legendborn world. There were a lot of terms used and I found it hard to follow and it made me lose interest in the book. By the end of the book, I feel like I understand most of it but I still feel a bit confused. I think a glossary would have benefited this book a lot, or it definitely would have benefited me at least!

Overall, I enjoyed it and will most likely read the sequel. As I definitely want to know more after that ending!
Profile Image for Ashley.
829 reviews483 followers
November 12, 2022
Star Rating: —> 5 Stars
[Buddy read with my bby Darceyyyyy !]
11/12/2022— BRR with my bestie & lil sis, DARCEY! AGAIN (obv lol). Clearly ALL THE STARS I might just be a fan of a poly relationship in this series, I’ve realized! Deonn would do by the rep so, so very right! 🥰

This is a novel of Arthurian legends retold & re-vamped, and amazing as hell Southern Black Girl Magic.
(It kinda gave off some hunger games vibes at times, or maybe more HP-ish ones, actually? Maybe. Maybe a mix of both?
Or more Shadowhunters? 🤔
*thinking on it*)

Regardless, just trust me on THIS, guys ...
THIS LEFT ME STUNNED! Consider me officially *SHOOKETH!*
Legendborn seriously is such an EPIC READ; I could NOT tear myself away from this story, except for when I absolutely had to, & even then, my husband practically had to pry it from my hands. 😂! I say that with 100% honesty. This is such a unique, completely engrossing, make your heart race, AMAZING, & diverse novel! It puts a fresh new spin on some familiar themes, and introduces some that are completely original!
This is, without a doubt, one of my top 5 favorite YA fantasy novels that i’ve read this year.

The fact that it’s an #ownvoices novel made it all the better. I loved the non-binary & LGBTQIA+ reps, as well! (& Sel is PAN ! *Squeeeeeeeeee* Deonn confirmed it on twitter!!!)

This book also has such a powerful message about Black women. About their strength, their tenacity, the injustices they have to face throughout their lives...
It is just EPIC on ALL levels.

So, yeah, I mean, what can I say... This book seriously made my heart SING & SOAR! And also makes it all hurt-y in the BEST WAY EVERRR.

I also have to say...
UHHH, GIRL F*CKING POWER. From moment ONE. the MC, BREE IS EFFING INCREDIBLE! She refuses to let people treat her unfairly, is 100% NOT afraid to share what’s on her mind, & is just so badass!


Also, *PSA TIME*
I had written that I was shipping a certain two people in one of my updates, but I must inform you that I am nowww officially aboard Ship “The Unknown”, after my reread 😂. Enough said.

Just saying though…I mean srsly... I am so in love with Sel!
BUT NICK! I didn’t give him enough credit during my first read ! He is just so cute ! Ugh, choices, choices. SO HARD!
Oh, hai there, newest book boyfriend(s)! *swoons*
I always end up falling for the dark, haunted souls (being hot as hell sure does NOT hurt.) 😂
It’s my thing. It’s what I do. 🤷🏼‍♀️

1000 times over recommend!
August 30, 2020

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Some of my friends were saying that this is like The Mortal Instruments, and while I can kind of see what they mean, I also think that LEGENDBORN is a much better book. Clary and Jace were such immature little shits, whereas all of the characters in LEGENDBORN-- even if they aren't nice-- have nuance. Plus, the heroine, Bree, is just really fascinating. She is unlike a lot of heroines I've read in YA. She's allowed to have sexual agency. She knows when she looks good. She gets mad and calls people out when she should. She doesn't cower. She's a bona fide bad-ass. But she also has moments when she feels vulnerable and weak. In short, she behaves more like a teen and less like an adult's idea of what a teen ought to be, and I really loved that.

The premise of LEGENDBORN is kind of weird. Basically, people who are descendants of the Knights of the Round Table have magic powers called "Bloodfcraft" and they defend the world from evil demons called "Shadowborn." Bree ends up getting involved with one of their prodigal sons, Nick, when she starts to have reason to believe that they killed her mother.

Bree is a high school student taking college classes at a prestigious North Carolina university. Remnants of history-- and the grim legacy of slavery-- are everywhere, and that history ties into Deonn's take on Arthurian legend in several unusual ways. One of the things I liked best about this book was how it tackles inequality and racism. Bree faces discrimination from ordinary people (like a cop who lets her white friend go but takes her and her Asian friend in, or people who touch her hair without her permission), but the history of racism and slavery aren't ignored either, which is something that a lot of fantasy and historical fiction fail to touch on: that a lot of historical figures or people in power who exist in economies where exploitation of other human beings is a product often did terrible things to get their money and their power. In this book, all power has a cost, and sometimes the price can be unforgivable. It's a chilling and powerful lesson.

There were other things I really liked about this book, too. It's diverse. Bree is Black. Her best friend is Asian. We meet several other Black mages, and there's a focus on Black history and Black experiences. The LGBT+ rep was really pronounced and done really casually. One of the love interests is coded as bi or pan (I'm not sure which). There's a non-binary character. There are several F/F couples. There's a love triangle, but for once, I actually liked both love interests for different reasons, and I like that it's not super obvious which one Bree is going to end up with (maybe both??). The golden boy or the bad boy??? I mean, how does one choose? (Take the bad boy, obviously.)

Even though the premise was a little cheesy, I found myself really drawn to the inventive world-building, and I felt so much more invested when things got dark and things took a Hunger Games-like turn. Honestly, with the bonding Scions and the training sessions, LEGENDBORN gave me Vampire Academy vibes more than anything else. Especially with the whole "hot for trainer" trope. I could easily see this becoming a movie (in fact, I hope it does), and I'm really excited to see where the sequel goes with all of this since there's still so much left unexplored.

If you like books with strong heroines and immersive fantasy novels, you'll probably love this.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

4 stars
Profile Image for Lucie V..
1,014 reviews2,071 followers
October 4, 2022
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you Simon & Schuster Canada). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ Writing
✅🆗 Main character
🆗 Plot
🆗❌ World-building (complex hierarchy)
❌ Info-dump

DNF at 29%

I know that this is a very unpopular opinion as I saw and read so many 4 stars and 5 stars reviews. I wanted to like this book so much, but I just could not get into the story. This book has great potential and I understand why it is so popular, but sadly it was not for me.

The basic storyline of the book is quite easy to follow, but the Legendborn world? Not that easy…
Bree’s mother died three months ago. Now, Bree just left her home to start fresh at the University of North Carolina. There, she sees magic and realizes that it is in fact the second time that someone used magic to erase her memory (but it did not work, and no one can explain why). The first time was the night her mother died. Determined to find out what really happened to her mother, Bree decides to try to join the Legendborns, a secret group dedicated to eliminating the Shadowborns (demons) with their magic (called aether), so she can find out what happened the night her mother died.

Bree got used to the fact that demons can access her world through gates fast and easily. She also learned specific vocabulary quickly. Honestly, I got lost during the explications a few times, there seemed to be so many different factions to the Legendborn (or should I say different Chapters with a very strict hierarchy: Legendborn, Vassals, Page, Scion, chosen squire, Mage, etc.). I could not get a clear picture of this secret organization. The members talk about ‘’The Code of Secrecy’’ or ‘’The Order Law’’, but do not give any more details about it. I do not mind a complex magic system and the one in this book is actually really interesting, but there were whole pages of info-dumping.

It has a Mortal Instrument vibe, but in this book, the Legendborns need to worry about their everyday life. They are not invisible beings that spend their whole days killing demons. They need to go to school and keep up the appearance of normal life at any cost. I liked this part, it made everything much more relatable. What bothered me was how well Bree adapts to her new reality, she even says how she has an advantage over the other Pages because she saw someone use aether before and she saw demons twice before entering the secret society. It feels as if everything falls right into place for her. She is a 16 years old teenager and she managed to infiltrate the Legendborn society even though she knows nothing about them, more than that, people just tell her inside information because she asks them. She manages to fight a demon when almost everyone else gets injured… I like that she is fierce, but it didn’t feel right how everything was going so well for her after 72 hours of being thrust into this new world.

Bree is a great main character; she has spunk and is not afraid to speak her mind. It is also nice that she is a black character, I have (sadly) not read a lot of books with a black main character and it was nice to discover this story with a slightly different perspective than what I am used to. It was interesting to discover her inner thoughts and to see how she deals with racist comments and assumptions or how her perspective is affected by the history of segregation in the United States. Nick is the golden boy sidekick who lives near the campus and decides to help Bree even though he rejected his Legendborn legacy many years ago. He is a nice character, but nothing special. Then there is Selwyn, he is intriguing, and I think that I would have liked him.

Overall, I know that this is a great book for many people, but it was not one for me. It was hard for me to get into this story because of all the info-dumping. I must mention though that the writing is gorgeous, and I really enjoyed the author's style.

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Profile Image for Ayman.
213 reviews85.1k followers
July 30, 2021
4.5 ⭐️ Tracy Deonn don’t be shy, drop book 2 already! OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! The reason why I’m knocking off half a star is because there was so much information dump in the beginning and it took me a while to get into this book. honestly that’s more of a me problem. But once the plot started to thicken I was unstoppable. These characters are my new comfort characters and I will protect them at all cost. The best part about this book however, is the writing. This author literally has a gift. from the racism, sexism, and grief that Bree deals with throughout the book-is very real and very well written. the world building and magic system of this book, it did not disappoint. also not to be dramatic but i would die for Sel❤️ my merlin!
Profile Image for krista ☽✧.
172 reviews530 followers
May 3, 2021
“Don't make your life about the loss. Make it about the love.”

“The most important thing you can do in this world, the most necessary thing, is to survive it. You can't do anything for anyone else if you don't take care of yourself first.”

rating - 3.75 stars✨✨

Legend Born is the first book in a fantasy series that has come out last year by author Tracy Deonn. This book is definitely something else. It is a diverse urban fantasy story inspired by something I had 0 clue off Merlin and King Arthur and his thirteen knights. It involves a secret society of people with powers that are from this line called legendborns that has a lot of history in it. It follows a black 16 year old main character that deals with racism , grief from the death of her mother recently and mental illnesses caused my grieve PTSD and upcoming PCBD. She comes across a accident that brings her to this magical order and then things happen and she believes her mothers death might not be an accident and might be involved with this order of legendborns that hunt shadowborns [ aka demons that come to earth to make chaos ] It also has several Bi and Gay reps in the story and history of black people. So quite a lot of cool things....

Things krizzie loves about this book
Worldbuilding & magic – The worldbuilding and magic in this book are really freaking cool. They are definitely super complex and my peanut brain could not handle it at times sometimes had to read certain pages more then 3 times and still did not understand which is a little bit downside but once the story progresses even tho the magic Is confusing because it is a lot , it is super cool with lots of different powers and lots of history and things that are coming together in the story. It has no info dump which was in this case both really great because it wasn’t boring but also a little confusing sometimes to keep up because everything in the world happened fast and vague. Overall the world and magic is really cool and I did love it besides having a peanut brain.

The plot – The plot is so good. Bree is dealing with grieve from her mothers death and is in the middle of progressing that and hurting because of it when she comes upon the order and thinks her mothers death might be connected to this which is becoming like a puzzle we are finding out with her as we also find out the order with her as she joins to have a position in the order to find out about her mother so she goes to a competition with trials. Its character driven and plot driven and I really enjoyed the plot. There where somany twistst and it felt like a big puzzle that I needed to figure out with my peanut brain but I really enjoyed the plot. Its coooool and I n t r e s t I n g.

The charracters – I enjoyed Bree as a main character and I especially enjoyed how the author handled grieve and mental illness in this story and her charracter. I love fantasy stories with charracters in it that deal with mental illness that’s krizzies perfect combination. We see bree struggle with grieve and its ugly and that’s what grieve is and I could relate to her. She deals with PTSD from her mothers death and panic attacks. She also talks with a therapist during this book which I liked that diagnosed her with upcoming PCBD. the author also experienced these mentall illnesses she said so you could really feel like the author knew what she had written. Bree is also badass which I liked and not whiny and stupid. I liked the topic of racism in her character and in this book in general it’s a good thing in a book to make people a w a r e. It does have really strong chosen one special snowflake vibes but I didn’t really mind it I do have to say I usually don’t mind that trope that much. I also enjoyed Sel a lot who is my kinda guy. Dark hair , part demon , dark , sarcastic , broken. Yes sign me up please. I need more of him right now , thankyou.

Things krizzie didn’t love
The romance INSTA LOVE ALERT EW– The romance is between Bree and The son of the ruler of the legend born secret society who is very much a standard golden boy. Boring. And there love is very insta love. They basically are in love and love eachother all of the sudden in two days. I really hated this and could not connect to the romance of them at all. It was so forced. I hate insta love. I also feel a love triangle coming which I don’t like. With sel and bree also becoming a thing maybe. I do like those two there is more chemistry there and no insta love barving shit. So yeah the romance in this book isn’t my thing at all. Because puky insta love.

Nick , side charracters– the goldedboy character , I coudnt connect and I think he is very standard. There where a cast of cool side character but I feel like we don’t get enough information to them and I need more of that , that could have been done better.
Overall I struggeled a bit with the beginning and world of the book but ended up really enjoying the magic and worldbuilding as it is freaking amazing , I love the plot and the puzzle , the dealings with mentall illness and the diversity of this book I love , the main character is great and diverse and not standard besides being the chosen one. What I didn’t like was the insta love and some typical basic character * nick * * cough * but overall I enjoyed this book and I am excited for the second. I would reccoment if you want a diverse fantasy , the insta love does suck but the rest is good so I can live with it if it gets solved and drowned quickly.

Krizzie out ,bye ; ) also I need more sel
Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
533 reviews705 followers
December 4, 2021
This was a fantasy that stood out among the other releases this year. Love it or hate it this book brought a different premise and I saw a lot of fanfare around it. It gave me a lot to think about and break down.

Bree Matthew's is still grieving her mother's death and getting accepted into UNC Chapel Hill's early college program seems like the distraction she needs. But was her mother's death actually an accident? Bree ends up stumbling upon a secret Arthurian society that may have the answer she seeks. After a strange encounter at a party. Bree enlists help from reluctant Legendborn Nick.

I liked that this was set on a college campus. Especially since this story is set in a somewhat realistic version of our world it provided a way for Bree to sneak out every night without being under her father's watchful eye. However the school life aspect was underdeveloped and there was no balance there whatsoever. Also these teens could've easily been bumped up to 18 year old college students instead of being high schoolers. The school aspect could've been fleshed out better and would've balanced the story.

There is a romance with a love triangle brewing at the surface and some insta-love. I really wasn't feeling the one relationship so I hope it doesn't go in that direction. I felt the book could've stood without the romantic aspect because it was giving early 2010s YA vibes with the two generic archetypes of male love interests. Also the descriptions of them being boys who looked like men was creepy.

For the most part was very fast paced except for some info-dumpy sections particularly in the middle. Initially the acceptance of magic was breezed over so quickly it gave me whiplash. I am interested in reading more though the medieval fantasy aspect didn't capture me. I'm having a hard time understanding that magic system and really could use a good explanation of how everyone's powers work.

There also needs to be more development on the character front. Bree was so one track minded and we didn't get many scenes with her genuinely connecting with the people around her. Her lack of Black peers was jarring to me especially since she was so surrounded by white kids in the order. And her best friend was shown so little I didn't even believe their closeness.

I am interested in seeing how things develop in the next book since this is a trilogy.

I received an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jananie (thisstoryaintover).
290 reviews13.8k followers
November 1, 2022
HOLY SHIT. THAT WAS FREAKING AMAZING. one of the best books of the year hands down. That ending threw me for a loop let me tell you, DID NOT see it coming. so many thoughts but ultimately just two—I love the history and heritage that comes with this story and the honouring of Bree's ancestry through the worldbuilding and magic system and also how grief is represented in this book. and two, I LOVE SEL, lord protect him.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,483 reviews79.1k followers
November 1, 2022
Reread October 2022: still as incredible as the first time around, and more than ready for Bloodmarked!

I'm kicking myself for not being better about bookmarking quotes I'd like to use in reviews while listening to audio, because this story has many sections that are worthy of remembering. After seeing so many raving reviews about this book, I was eager to jump in, and after waiting for what felt like ages, my audiobook hold from the library came in. It was the absolute perfect timing in listening to this book, and if the second were already released, I would have jumped straight into that one as well. I can't get enough of this world that Tracy Deonn has created!

I'm not typically a big reader of Arthurian retellings, but this is by far the best one I've come across. Think of it as part urban fantasy, part murder mystery, with a dash of romance (and possibly a light love triangle in the next book?) Heavy themes of racism, both overt and microaggressions alike, are touched on and might be disturbing to some readers, but their inclusion is necessary to the plot line and I felt tied in so well with the overarching message of the story. Also, topics of grief, family, and generational trauma are spoken on as well, and once we see how all of these things tie together, it makes a profound statement as to where I see the next book taking us.

But wait! Please don't let the heaviness of that paragraph make it sound like this book is just doom and gloom. There is so much joy to be seen here. Young, budding love, the loyalty of childhood friends, strong paternal/daughterly bonds: it's all here. I adored seeing Bree come into her own and discover not only who she is in the Legendborn world, but as a daughter, friend, and young Black woman. I love when we get the opportunity to watch our main characters grow, especially when they don't start out these hardened, totally strong characters, but have to come into that. Also, I'm going to need more Bree + Sel, please and thank you. Gah, this book was a fresh breath of air in a saturated genre, and I am here for it!
Profile Image for Nicole.
750 reviews1,937 followers
August 31, 2021
Legendborn was a pleasant surprise! It should get nominated for GR’s award of 2020’s best debut at the very least. It reimagines the Arthurian Legend in a completely new way. You see, the knights of the round table were stronger than your usual knight. They fought demons or rather “Shadowborns” and kept them at bay saving humans from them. Their descendants, the Legendborn, inherited their power and they’re still hunting demons centuries later.
Our main character, Bree, ends up getting involved with this secret society. When she decided to attend Carolina’s Early College, she didn’t expect her life to be changed forever. She had witnessed supernatural events and believed her mother's death accident wasn’t just an accident. She ended up finding a lot more about her dead mother, family history, and of course, the knights and King Arthur.

I liked Bree, she’s a complex main character, strong-willed, and doesn’t back down. She also doesn’t takes shit from anybody. The secondary characters were at the very least two dimensional. Nick was so sweet and I don’t want anybody to hurt him but at the same time, he was spoiled a bit. There’s no “perfect” character. They had their shortcomings but they also kicked ass. I cared about many of them especially Sel and Bree’s dad.

I also loved how this book handled racism and inequality issues. Bree faced any discrimination she faced and spoke out, putting people in their place. My favorite thing about this book is probably the last revelation and plot twist, it was very powerful and satisfying in a you-had-that-coming kind of way.

If you want diversity? This book is for you. Alice, the best friend is a lesbian. We also had gays, bis, etc. And of course, the main character is a black girl. I usually feel pressure when I’m reading a very diverse book, advertised mostly because of its diversity, what if I didn’t like it? Will people say I’m racist, or whatever? Although I learned to not overthink it anymore, after all, I disliked so many books with white MCs too, I still feel weird like for not liking COBAB. However, I absolutely enjoyed this book and loved many of its characters. It had all the elements I want in a YA:
-complex heroine who isn’t annoying nor acts stupid and helpless
-fast paced plot
-interesting story
-imaginative world-building
-cute and likable love interest
-enjoyable secondary characters

Sadly, this book had a few weaknesses.
The events of this book were set into motion before it started so this book was pretty fast-paced. Although it was over 500 pages, don’t worry. You won’t get bored, if anything you’d need to catch up. It took me a bit to absorb all of the Legendborn history and hierarchy. Which is okay, I’m not a passive reader so I do like to figure things out and analyze the structure of, for example, the knights of the round table secret society.
But what I didn’t like was the fact that we had so many coincidences and conveniences. Some events were never explained/tackled and some events were just too convenient. All books have such occurrences but it was overdone here. SO much happened during 3 weeks.
It was also rushed in some parts. Half of the book happens in the first week of school. I wish we had more build-up. Bree could’ve come early for example to settle in and such. The demons could’ve taken a bit longer to start showing up. Bree could’ve practiced for a longer time. We can see why Alice and Bree are best friends instead of being told about it.

Which brings me to my other point. The other thing that I wasn’t a big fan of was Bree and Alice’s fight at the start, it felt useless especially since it was the first of what we saw of Alice. Again, I think them having a fight at that point and Alice ratting her to her father was convenient. She was her best friend for 8 years and that’s how she behave knowing Bree is going through a tough time? I didn’t believe Alice wasn’t good for a second, it was more like the author needing to behave this way to generate particular actions that lead to specific important events. I wish Deonn relied more on logic even if the book had to be longer.

At one time, Bree met three women, she knew who their BOYS are because well, genes. She rightly guesses the THREE boys (and not girls, would’ve been more logical if it was the latter since daughters look more like mothers than sons like mothers…), again, it’s not possible.

There are some instances when I didn’t like how Bree behaved and at one point what she did was unbelievable

I hate love triangles. If I know a book has a love triangle, I rarely bother with it anymore. We had one here. I think the romance between Bree and Nick was WAY TOO RUSHED. We could’ve done without it. I understand why they feel a connection and it makes total sense but I didn’t like how even the romance progressed too fast. As for the other guy, we only had electricity, and you how touching is described in a book, there wasn’t any affirmation of their feelings but it was hinted. I hope it doesn’t progress into a full triangle and in this case a love triangle from several sides…

Other than that, I really had fun reading this book. It was a solid debut but it had its shortcomings. I quite liked Deonn’s reimagination of the Arthurian Legend, it was innovative. The characters were also well developed and I’m already looking forward to reading the second book.
Profile Image for Elle.
587 reviews1,401 followers
December 31, 2021
I desperately want to be able to yell at someone, ‘Why didn’t you tell me to read this earlier????’ But the truth is that basically everyone told me to read Legendborn before I eventually did, so I have nobody to blame but myself.

For Briana Matthews, a lot of things seem to come easily. She’s an excellent student, accepted to University of North Carolina’s Early College program at 16. She’s close with her parents and her best friend Alice, who is joining her at school. But what Bree could never have prepared for was her mother’s sudden death right before she left for Chapel Hill. Lost in her grief and uncertain where her path at UNC will take her, Bree finds herself pulled into a secret society with members who call themselves “Legendborn”. The mysteries of this group appear to have some connection with her mother’s death, so Bree dives head-first into an organization that makes very clear it was not made for her.

I don’t typically gravitate towards contemporary fantasies, even though I’ve enjoyed a number of them. But I truly believe that anyone, from someone that’s fantasy-hesitant to those fully entrenched in otherworldly magic and lore, will be able to enjoy their time with Legendborn. Without getting too much into the trenches, the Legendborn draw on the numerous tales of Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Taking the role of righteous wielders of their ancestors’ magic, Legendborn aim to protect the public from dark forces that wish to do their world harm. It’s a really compelling blend of mythology, fantasy, academia and hero’s journey that had me completely invested from the get-go.

Bree is an absolute force, imperfect in her coping but full of strength and grit. The way her character reckons with not just a erratic power burning within her, but the open and veiled hostility of some of the members of this almost entirely white society is a masterful act in balancing by Tracy Deonn. Bree has been brought into an institution within an institution, ones that exploited her ancestors to build their own legacies. And many of their descendants seem more than happy to keep those inherited hierarchies as-is.

So much of the focus of this story is on power. The literal powers that members possess, the institutional power that is passed down and the power inherent in every human being. I loved learning about the legends of these long-dead knights just as much as the hidden histories of the men, women and children who built UNC. One of the most impressive things about Deonn’s writing here is that she has so many balls going up in the air at one time, but nothing is ever rushed or dragging. The pacing is near perfect, and I flew through this 500 page full-sized chonker pretty quickly.

Obviously there’s a lot more to this book than magic power and evil demons, but don’t let that lead you to believe that this is anything less than an incredible fantasy novel. There’s action, adventure, some romance and a constant testing of loyalties culminating in an epic clash between two opposing forces. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, completely caught off guard at several points, even if I felt like I knew the direction the author was taking.

I know it’s only August, but I think I can say this is the best fantasy book I’ve read so far this year. An easy recommendation to anyone who asks, and even some who don’t. And now I have to wait until 2022 for the sequel???? Ugh, I die.

*Thanks Madison and Paige for sending me this for my birthday!!

**For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!
Profile Image for Avery (Taylor's version).
217 reviews450 followers
February 18, 2023
“Don't make your life about the loss. Make it about the love.”

While I haven't been writing reviews really fast these days, I couldn't NOT write one right after finishing this book because AH, I AM OBSESSED.

I had very high expectations because I haven't heard a bad thing about this book, and while it took me FOREVER to read this (it's all my fault, I'm reading too many books right now), I FLEW through it once I actually allowed myself to get sucked in, and my sky high expectations were met!!

“Love is a powerful thing, more powerful than blood, although both run through us like a river.”

This may be a me thing, but in the beginning this book was really confusing. Like there was so much stuff I had to learn and so much information was being thrown out there. I still am really confused about some things, but I managed to make it through the book, so that's a plus.

I liked how speedy the plot was too- nothing seemed really slow, and, especially in the final chapters, so much was going on. I was always on the edge of my seat and was gasping out loud and making these strange shocked noises.

The writing was also gorgeous. It just flowed so well with the story and it helped tell the story so well, with all its complexities and twists. The world felt real and whole, as did the characters (which as a character driven person, I loved).

Also, the twists were so well done! Like I was so shocked at the end, with all those twists and I NEED the next book (it is a necessity, not even just a want anymore, a necessity)

“Two faults. My race and my gender. But they are not faults. They are strength. And I am more than this man can comprehend.”

I LOVE BREE WITH MY WHOLE HEART. I haven't liked a main protagonist this much in a very long time. For once, I was never annoyed with the decisions she made, and she was extremely rational and I understood the reasonings behind all of her actions. She is also a literal queen, like whenever she stood up to people I was beaming down at my book so much. Her character felt so real- her trauma and grief was so well written and I could feel Bree's sadness and loss. The racism Bree had to deal with felt so well-written, and all of these issues were wonderfully talked about.

I loved Nick a lot in the beginning, and while I still like him now, it's just a little less. That's only because, since I'm incredibly dramatic, I don't ship him and Bree together. But we'll get to that later. He's so sweet and loving and I can tell how much he cares about Bree.

Moving on to Sel, my new favorite male character. I. LOVE. HIM. SO. MUCH. His dark, brooding, sarcastic attitude (we all know by now how much I adore these kinds of characters) combined with the fact that he's got dark hair, golden eyes, AND TATTOOS=PERFECTION. AND WHAT MAKES IT EVEN BETTER: UNDERNEATH THE BROODING DARK SURFACE IS THE FACT THAT HE DEEPLY CARES FOR SOME PEOPLE AND WOULD KILL PEOPLE TO SAVE THEM. AH 🙇‍♀️🙇‍♀️🛐🛐🧎‍♀️🧎‍♀️



thank you

“Why someone dies is not the same question as why they are gone.”

The romance is one of my favorite parts. At least, it will be if Sel and Bree end up together. I SWEAR TO GOD IF THEY DON'T-

In the beginning I was wary because I hate love triangles and I knew that this one had one, but it's hardly really there, and thankfully I still like the guy I'm not rooting for (Nick if you can't already tell)

I really want to see how the romance progresses in Bloodmarked because the synopsis says "growing attraction" to Sel (believe me, when I read that part I giggled and kicked my feet) despite her love for Nick (not gonna lie, I hope the love diminishes to friendship 😃😃).


“Some truths only tragedy can teach.”

Overall, I loved this book so much and I really need the next one. I won't break my book ban because I don't want to just order one book on Amazon (whenever I do buy more books it'll definitely be more than one) but I REALLY want Bloodmarked right now. I cannot wait to get to it.

I've said something like this already but: SELWYN KANE CAN STEP ON ME

5 stars

“They that would be a leader, let them be a bridge.”




Profile Image for Jessica .
2,129 reviews13.8k followers
December 15, 2020

Wow, this book. It does have a slow start and took me awhile to get used to the whole magic system and Arthurian legend background. Bree was kind of thrown into this world, so I did enjoy learning about everything with her, it just took me a long time to get who was who among the tons of characters and how their magic/hierarchy worked.

This book is so action-packed and the last 100 pages were ABSOLUTELY INSANE. I am still not sure what to think right now about what happened. I loved every second of this book and so many twists and turns were thrown in near the end. They all made sense, but I saw none of it coming and it was so good! And can we talk about Sel? He is definitely my favorite character of this book and I really hope we get more of him in the sequel.

Bree was a great main character and I loved the depth to her. She was grieving losing her mother and was determined to find out the secrets behind who her mom was and what really happened behind her death. My heart went out to Bree and the loss she was going through, but I also loved the growth she went through and what she was able to learn and overcome.

I could't recommend this book enough! I'm already dying for book two and I know that this ending is going to stick with me for a long time!
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,175 reviews98.9k followers
April 4, 2023
“They are past-tensing my heart—my whole beating, bleeding, torn heart—right in front of me.”

I really enjoyed this one so much, much like most of my friends on goodreads. I also adore an arthurian legend reimagining, and this one is for sure my new favorite – so smartly done and so galaxy brain, truly. The grief depiction in this is going to mean a lot to so many, and it was also very empathetically and powerfully done, in my opinion. I really love Bree, and she really captured my heart in this book.

evie's amazing spotify playlist

trigger + content warnings: loss of a loved one/parent, hospital settings, talk of car accidents, grief, anxiety, harry potter character mention, racism, a lot of microaggression, talk of police brutality, blood depictions, harm to get blood, death, gore, violence, vomiting, animal death (boar), talk of rape in the past, child abuse in the past, slavery, generational trauma, panic attacks, ptsd, torture, magical compulsion, child birth

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Profile Image for E.H.
9 reviews26 followers
February 18, 2021
“Don’t make your life about the loss. Make it about the love.”

Sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews is grieving for the loss of her mother, when she enrolls in a college program for intelligent high schoolers. On her first night on campus Bree witnesses a magical assault, causing her to question whether her mother’s death was in truth an accident. A failed attempt to erase her memory of this night causes Bree’s own unique magic and memories that have previously been altered with to become uncovered. Bree will do whatever it takes to reveal the truth, even infiltrating those who are responsible for the erasing of her memory – the Legendborn. How far is Bree willing to go to uncover the truth about her mother’s mysterious death and is she willing to join the fight of a magical war?

Legendborn is undoubtedly my favourite read of the year so far. Tracy Deonn certainly deserves recognition and acclaim for this refreshing perspective on urban fantasy.

Tracy Deonn’s debut book has generated an enchanting, contemporary world that I lost myself in. The outstanding first book of the series was a breath of fresh air, with the originality and uniqueness of the plot and the world that came with it. Tracy Deonn did a formidable job of representing diversity throughout the book, incorporating and raising awareness of crucial issues of modern-day society throughout.

Tracy Deonn accomplishes the complex and intricate world building centred around the past time tales of King Arthur. Grief, power and self-discovery, critical concepts of the plot, are portrayed realistically and admirably. I can wholeheartedly say that this book kept me anticipating what was to come and therefore kept me turning the pages.

Do not get me started on the diverse range of characters in this book. I could write a whole essay on the faultless description and character development of those in this book, but I will allow you to discover the love for these characters yourself. I'll allow you the privilege of discovering Bree Matthews for yourself, because she is what I envision for a protagonist I want to fall in love with. I am also now a certified fan-girl for both Nick and Sel. Putting the main protagonists aside, the creation of the supporting characters makes you fall in love with their attributes as much as the main characters. Which is precisely what I require from a novel.

It is difficult to comprehend that this is Tracy Deonn's debut novel and I cannot wait (even though I'll have to) for the second book in the series. I will reiterate once again that this is my favourite read of the year so far and implore you at whatever cost to read Legendborn.

Overall rating: 5 stars⭐
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