Magie artušovských legend pokračuje! Dokáže Bree ovládnout vlastní síly?
Bree si vždy přála pouze odhalit pravdu ohledně smrti svojí matky. A tak se vetřela do řádu mýtonošů, tajného společenství potomků rytířů krále Artuše – a tam objevila své vlastní síly poděděné po předcích. A teď se Bree stala někým novým. Médiem. Krvečárnou. Dědičkou. Ale prastará válka mezi démony a řádem se blíží ke smrtícímu vrcholu. A Nick, mýtonoš, do kterého se Bree zamilovala, byl unesen. Bree chce bojovat, ale regenti, kteří řádu vládnou, jí to nedovolí. Pro ně je jen neznámá holka s podivnými silami a jakožto živoucí kotva kouzla, které uchovává cyklus mýtonošů, musí být ochráněna. Když regenti prokážou, že jsou ochotní udělat cokoli, aby válku utajili, Bree a její přátelé se musí vydat Nicka zachránit sami. Ale nepřátelé jsou všude a Breeiny síly jsou nepředvídatelné a nebezpečné. A taky nedokáže uniknout rostoucí přitažlivosti, kterou cítí k Selwynovi, mágovi, který slíbil, že bude Nicka až do smrti ochraňovat. Pokud chce Bree doufat, že existuje alespoň maličká naděje, že se jí podaří zachránit sebe a ty, které miluje, musí se naučit ovládat své síly od předků, kteří jimi vládli jako první – a nepřijít přitom o sebe samou.
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.
post-read review: guys this book was BRILLIANT. better even than book #1 (which is saying something) and legitimately revolutionary in the world of YA fantasy, because this is such a masterful series full of complex worldbuilding, (precious) flawed characters and, well, selwyn kane, which is enough for me to devote my entire life to tracy deonn's happiness.
this book had me clutching my (metaphorical) pearls and gasping aloud, it had me cackling and punching the air, it had me sobbing because DAMN deonn can write. and as much as i adore sel, bree is the true protagonist of this story, and she is such a powerful and realistic character in this book! her growth and her bravery is inspirational, and i cannot wait to see how she continues to develop after that (brutal) ending.
in conclusion, READ THIS, and god someone please get me book #3 asap I'LL DO ANYTHING.
Um, HOLY F*CKING BRUTAL. EXCUSE ME WHILE I CRY HUGGING MY BOOK AS TIGHT AS I CAN. RTC.
[BR W/ THE LOVELIEST VIET AUSSIE EVER, DARCEY! (As per usual ;) ]
____________________ It is taking every ounce of self control I possess to not write every single word of this proclamation in all caps (as you see, ngl it did NOT last lol)
Tracy Deonn THANK YOU 🙏🏼. THANK YOU SO FREAKING MUCH FOR GIVING US THE BRELWYN COVER I DIDN’T EVEN SEE COMING ( HOLY FREAKIN’ HELLLLLL— I THINK I’M GOING TO FAINT ) & THE BRELWYN CONTENT (MUAHAHHA!— according to the blurb, anyway) WE’VE ALL BEEN DYING FOR!!!
omg I am so beyond excited that I cannot EVEN. just. ugh gimme this brelwyn energyyyyyyyy nowwww plsssss.
____________ RED ALERT: NEED. BRELWYN. IMMEDIATELY. ... OR JUST SEL, PLEASE & THANK YOU.
GIMME GIMME GIMME! Legendborn was one of my top reads of 2020 (dear lord, it was INCREDIBLE— the book, not the year. The year being incredible—2020, to be clear, again... well that's just laughable AF); SO EFFING EXCITED ABOUT THIS.
tracy deonn emotionally drained me the life out of me with this one...
07/21/22 — finishing bloodmarked had me rooted to my spot at a loss for words in processing everything that happened. deonn continues amaze me, demonstrating her craft in consistently building this elaborate world and thorough in what goes on in every order and system of the various kind of people that live among normal humans. i was so overwhelmed but in the best way possible honestly, mesmerized in deonn’s fascinating details that were not in the previous and had me thinking about what more possibly could we not know yet. right away, readers are instantly captivated being hooked into bree matthews’ story resuming. had me on the edge of my seat not wanting to put it down with its thrill though at the same time dragging it out as i did not want it to end so soon, it’s been a year since i’ve read and reread legendborn and in that time my attachments grew immensely in my heart. came to that conclusion with the insane amount of physical reactions i had while reading bloodmarked. like truly lost my mind at particular moments, my stomach was in knots, and just a mess of nerves going about this story and where things would go.
bree matthews, my forever girl, she’s put through even more in this sequel, especially with the heavier obligations she carries and the higher dangers she finds herself and her friends facing. deonn not only writes this world so vividly but also writes her characters so impressively realistic in a ya genre fantasy. bree’s deep feelings, coming to terms with controlling her newfound powers and dealing with the decisions and stakes she’s in evoked much pain in my heart, empathizing and seeing herself process in uncertain situations. genuinely was so proud of her with how much she’s grown in a short amount of time and many moments standing her ground like i kneel down to her! this book just cemented breeselnick being my latest emotional support trio even more, they are just everything to me. history and bloodlines are still a huge focus, and the way deonn brings in more history into this modern story truly in awe. however, the protections characters have for bree and the same care she reciprocates for them, being her loved ones all around her, that kind of love with the lengths they go for each other feels like the constant core of this series. especially when remembering the first book’s focus being her grief and loss, it just hurts on another level. objectively, this is a 4.5 star read rounded up but to me personally, there were few flaws with how sentimental and enthralling emotional rollercoaster the reading experience was.
fans of this series are seriously not ready for what bloodmarked throws at you with the wringer that my mind and sanity was put through. tracy deonn the therapy bills for my wellbeing are on the way, especially the brainrot with book three theories on my mind. i need the third book immediately even though i am just downright terrified for how it will all conclude…
“You are the point of our arrow […] the tip of our spear. The bow of our ship. The flame of our long-simmering heat. You are the living embodiment of our resistance. The revelation after centuries of hiding. The pain-welded blade. Wound turned weapon.”
I have been waiting for Bloodmarked with baited breath since first blowing through Legendborn last year. That excitement only (somehow) grew upon completing my reread of Legendborn last week where I was again reminded of all the many things Deonn not only got right, but hit out of the park, alongside all the crumbs and threads left that I was eager to see fleshed out.
All that excitement and optimism to say that I felt more than ready to tackle Bloodmarked. I’ll start with the positives before going through some of the critiques that I feel held this back. First, as in Legendborn, Deonn doesn’t shy away from putting slavery and the theme of racism front and center, demonstrating in micro and macro ways the ways racism continues to run rampant and power current structures and systems. The racism Bree experiences from those within the Order meant to protect and uphold her manifest in many ways, some shocking, some, sadly, familiar. Deonn deftly puts these on the page and Bree has many memorable moments where she refuses to let the Order ignore what circumstances and systems of power put her in her current position as Arthur’s scion. The challenge of what is acceptable, palatable, better left unsaid so as not to make white people uncomfortable is what continues to make this series so incredibly important.
“They will still find a way to claim my power as their own. Ignore its origins, because those origins discomfort them. And expect my humility for surviving the violence of a system they helped build, maintain, and benefit from.”
Another aspect I liked, though one that I think contradicts some plot points made in Legendborn, was the diversity included with several new characters, many in positions of power within the Order. From BIPOC lieges to mageguards, we find a cast of characters that starts to look a lot more like our society than just the very old white money of an old southern institution. I say this contradicts from Legendborn plot points because we find that Bree as a black squire is not actually the first, and that other minorities are embedded in the Order in other positions of power. It may be just that the racism may be more pronounced or felt in the southern chapter than some of the others, but I’m not totally sure it checks out. It’s a minor quibble in continuity I’m willing to overlook because I think the representation is itself more important.
Now for some aspects that weren’t successful for me. Diving into this one felt daunting because it felt somehow like there was an immediate reset on the characters from where we find them at the end of Legendborn. The connection between Bree and Sel seems unnaturally frayed and fraught with tension — and not in the teen pining way, and Bree herself felt a bit disconnected. After everything that’s revealed at the end of Legendborn, it doesn’t seem that the months between that and the beginning of Bloodmarked (~3 months) find Bree adjusting any better to her circumstances or having come to any processing of it all. But nonetheless, the action immediately picks up with new factions involved. Quickly on, the Legendborn world is expanded significantly with more layers to the Order revealed. While the expansion was creative and interesting, I’m not convinced it was cleanly done. Despite entire paragraphs of info dumps, I don’t quite understand each Regent’s position or motivations and the Order system and hierarchy felt muddled and confusing. Within the first 100 pages, there’s almost too much introduced information wise, but not enough character wise.
Bree feels like a mere shadow of herself, which is saying something as I didn’t leave Legendborn with a solid grasp on who Bree is as a character outside her trauma and grief. Despite being so connected and in love with Nick (or whatever emotions), Nick often felt like an afterthought in Bree’s thoughts, instead of up front and center as an emotional driver. Bree also doesn’t seem keen to look into mastering or understanding her powers for 300+ pages, despite wanting to keep throwing herself into danger unprepared, and knowing that such actions could cause the death of all those connected to her through the Lines. Bree simply just felt wooden and flat. In Legendborn we got to see clever aspects to her - we’re told she’s academically gifted and smart, putting clues together about the Order on her own, manipulating Nick into making her a page…but here, all that seems to vanish. She’s just a figurehead - and while I can see how that’s the attitude for some characters around her, I expected more of a reaction from Bree about this than just doing nothing. She even makes a statement that she doesn’t want to be coddled and protected, while also stating she knows she’s putting herself and all of them at risk every time, yet even STILL she hasn’t made the decision to learn more about her powers.
Sel as a partner to Bree during Nick’s absence felt like a squandered opportunity to bring these two even closer and leverage the ~feelings~ developing and hinted at in the end of Legendborn. It’s not clear why their relationship backtracks so starkly in the beginning, but this persists for several hundred pages. Sel also goes off on other things that further removes him and Bree from connecting on any level and because it all happens away from the eyes of the readers, we really have no sense for what’s going on with his character. Where his angsty attitude in Legendborn was starting to come together and make sense, here it felt forced and too drawn out. I also expected Sel to have stronger feelings about Nick’s kidnapping, given the bond and oath that keeps them so intricately tied together. There are moments of….something with Sel and Bree that I think are meant to keep the love triangle aspect alive, but they felt cringey and inauthentic because these two would immediately go back to being cold and combative. It’s not the push and pull of opposites attract, it’s like they literally resent the other, so the romance just felt toxic and unhealthy, especially with what we know about Sel’s background and how he’s always been used. Frankly, I think each of them needs development INDEPENDENTLY of each other and Bree doesn’t need either love interest to be interesting. She IS the story.
“You invoke grief now so that death will never surprise you again. You imagine how it could happen, so that you can imagine how it cannot. You wish to destroy it before it destroys you.”
As I mentioned above, it takes Bree 300+ pages to decide she’s going to learn how to master her powers — this did not make any sense to me. It did not make sense given how clever and eager she was to learn weaponry and fighting for the tournament in book 1, and especially now that people have died and betrayals are afoot. I can understand not feeling worthy enough of being king, or not even wanting to take up that mantle and responsibility when you feel unprepared, betrayed, and not accepted, but the emotional drivers of Nick being kidnapped and wanting to save her friends should have been enough to spark….something, some commitment to action and understanding of how she can tip the scales and tide of Camlann. Time and again, Bree just makes matters worse, knowing she can’t help in battle.
“This world wants my suffering, and I cannot keep giving it to them.”
While the middle suffered from pacing issues, the ending introduced so many elements and Plotinus without really seizing any of them that it makes me confused about the direction of the series. There are the Morgaines, the Shadowborn, Sel and his demonia, Nick and his feelings, the regents and Order, the rest of the Legendborn and table, and all the truths that Bree uncovers about herself. None of these is fleshed out and many of them are left conveniently on pause. You might say this is so that they’ll be picked up in the next book, but without going into spoilers, I just don’t see how they can all be connected well and without making things feel so convoluted. There were opportunities to stick the landing with introducing these elements, the Morgaines especially, that didn’t happen, so I wonder if they shouldn’t just have been left out and saved for the next book entirely.
Too many new things at once — you don’t know where your attention should be going and it doesn’t feel satisfying. And if you’re wondering where Nick is in all this — so am I. He was a non-starter throughout and an afterthought repeatedly, which was surprising given his role in Bree’s life in book 1. I suspect Deonn is still figuring out what to do with him now that we all know how he and Bree are connected, not just through the Order, but by family histories, but from book 1 I actually think he had a lot of good character foundation and would have been interesting to explore further, maybe get some POV chapters. Again, the story is Bree, she’s the story so I don’t think the romance with either is needed but if it’s going to continue being part of the plot, I think both need more development to matter.
The ending itself is where I feel the most unmoored and letdown. I’ll put spoiler tags.
Overall I highly respect what Deonn is trying to do with the story and her voice is incredibly powerful, but I feel that Bloodmarked was too much at once without a clear direction and without deference to the characters. I’m still committed to the next book and series (I suspect it will be more than a trilogy, or I hope so given all that was introduced), but I do hope we see much more of Bree as a fleshed out character, get more from the supporting cast, and explore Nick and Sel each more deeply, and get a clearer picture of all the magical elements and players circling around. Despite all my thoughts, I still recommend this series, there’s more to come and I will be eager to see where Deonn takes this.
Thank you Simon Teen and Fantasy Frenemies co-hosts for my galley in exchange for an honest review.
I thought that the first book was very meh, didn't have a whole lot going for it, but it was serviceable. It wasn't until I had some distance and heard thoughts away from the hype that my own thoughts started to turn. So I did go into this book expecting little, but I didn't expect the book to dig under the bar and reach new depths of foolishness...
My real issue with this is that the narrative feels bloated. It was very hard for me to slip into the world that the narrative was trying to craft because it didn't feel believable. I appreciated the minor time skip at the beginning of the book, but then the story wanted me to believe that Bree was going to class and that the High Council [ aka The Magical KKK ] wanted them to go to tests and be students... something sis couldn't even do in the first book.
It continued to bother me that every interactiont hat Bree had with another Black person [ be it the root council at the beginning she warned of the Merlins arrival, to Samira, to the people at the Lounge / Underground Railroad ] all felt like business interactions... For the last part of the book to be wrapped up in the root of Bree's character, her ancestry trying to teach her something, the way she continued to feel distanced from it all was very weird. There is not having Black people near you and there is the narrative forcing this Black person into isolation and it often felt like sis was content to go through life never talking to a Black person but constantly remarking about how it wasn't fair that Sel got to have a community of fellow Merlins at the beginning of the book or how Vera fucked over all her descendants. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way... I truly don't know what Black experience is being captured and reflected with Bree.
The romance continued to be lackluster. If you share a slaving owning great grand pappy I think it's weird if you want to smash them, that's gotta be your cousin. But then the dynamic with Sel has never actually materialized. So much of his actions in the last book were very much the red flag of racism, and even here there was nothing until Deonn remembered that there was a half assed attempt at a love triangle supposed to be happening and tried to include some crumbs.
As executed the book feels more like a rough collection of ideas that are loosely strung together. Even if I don't care to see Bree trying to rescue Nick from the events of the last book, that would have been so much stronger than this Underground Railroad to protected by the ancestors Plantation arc we got here.... None of the ideas presented felt well thought out or executed on a level that at all resembled polished.
This clearly wasn't for me, and I cannot think of a single person I would ask to read this... I'm happy people have connected with this story, but I gotta think that this is my stop, particularly when I have nary a clue how many entries are supposed to comprise this series, but given how bloated this book was I cannot imagine one book giving a satisfying conclusion to anyone. Shout out to Ms Deonn, I hope the checks keep clearing, but I won't be returning to see anything more of this narrative play out.
Omg I loved this sm!! 😍😍😍 I was expecting great things after loving Legendborn and Tracy Deonn did not disappoint- such an amazing, well-written story that I thoroughly enjoyed!! 💗💗
“But grief isn’t a competition. It’s not an identical pain that we all meet one day when death finds us. It’s a monster, personalized by our love and memories to devour us just so. Grief is suffering, tailored.”
Bloodmarked is the sequel to Legendborn, which was one of my faves of last year- so so good!! I'm not gonna say much about the plot of this one to avoid spoilers but we basically continue to follow our mc Bree as she learns more about her ancestors and heritage and we also get loads of new info about some of our side characters! With war on the horizon, Bree and her friends will have to do everything to fight back the forces surrounding them and survive.
“But that’s the thing. The Legendborn legacy isn’t power; it’s violence.”
I'm always a little nervous going into a sequel of a book i loved bc of the dreaded second book syndrome- but this didn't have that at all!! 🥳 We get to learn sm more about the world & characters and imo it continues the momentum of the first book- which is amazing!! 🤩🤩
Starting with the characters! ✨ I absolutely loved the characters in Legendborn and continued to love them in this!! 💗💗 Bree, our mc, is literally amazing- she's so fierce and refuses to back down, and her character development throughout the series has been done SO well. She feels like such a real person and i honestly would love to be her best friend ❤ The things she went through in this book tho-- 😭😭 I just wanted to give her a huge hug!! 🥺🥺🥺
Sel is one of the biggest secondary characters in here and OMG I LOVE HIM SM 🤭🤭🤭 He's the dark, brooding bad boy kinda character, but that honestly never gets old 😏 Every time he protected Bree (which was a lot) I was swooning and his characterisation was *chefs kiss* He is literally so hot i can't get over it 🤭😍
✨Other characters✨ ♤Nick didn't feature in this one as much so I don't have a lot to say about him. But some of the decisions he made were a little bit *questionable* 🤨🤨 ♤Alice- i love her sm 💗 Her and Bree's friendship is so precious and we got to see a lot more of her in this book which was great!! She's so snarky and I love it 🤌🤌 ♤Valec- he was a new character and I honestly don't know if we're meant to like him or not but I'm obsessed with him 🤭🤭 He's got that morally grey flair that I love sm and he's just sooo entertaining. Every scene with him in it had me giggling and smiling. We better see more of him!! 😍😍😍
Next, the writing- which was absolutely IMMACULATE 😍😍🤌🤌 I love Tracy Deonn's writing SO MUCH and I honestly can't believe this is only her second book 😳 it is just so polished and beautiful. Something about the way she writes is so perfect to me and I NEED MORE 😫😫
Also, there were quite a few tough topics talking about here, such as rape and racism, and I think the author handled them AMAZINGLY. She didn't shy away from showing us the ugly truth and how those horrible, horrible things had effected the characters so deeply and i think that she really understood the struggles she was talking about. So I really appreciated that 💗 But would definitely recommend checking trigger warnings for this series before picking it up.
The plot was also really good!! 🤩🤩 This book was packed full of action and plot twists that had me GASPING and i was eating it up 🤭 We get to learn sm about the world in here which was super interesting and the characters also travel around a lot which was nice for a change of pace from the first book. That end part was literally so intense i was S T R E S S E D. I NEED THE NEXT BOOK. Like, rn 😤😤
Lastly, the romance. OMG THE ROMANCE IN HERE. IT WAS TOO GOOD GUYS 🤭🤭😩😩 I am officially Team Sel, he and Bree are P E R F E C T for each other 🤌🤌 Every little interaction, every time Sel protected Bree, THE SCENE IN THE FOREST- I can't get over it I love them sm 💗💗💗 I was eating up that romance up, it was just *chefs kiss*
“What truly ties us together is not blood but pain. When we love someone and lose them, that loss imprints itself on everyone else we love too.”
Overall, I loved this sm!! 😍😍 Would absolutely recommend if you want:
✔ Amazing writing ✔ Such great characters ✔ STUNNING ROMANCE ✔ Lots of plot twists and action
Tracy Deonn, you're gonna have to write the third book quickly bc I need it NOW 💗
~ 4.5 stars!
This was so so good 😍😍😍 The romance was 🤌🤌 and I had such a good time reading it!! 💗💗 Also the ending was wild 😳😳
"Because, silly thing, you truly thought I would leave you."
❗This review contains spoilers❗
In all honesty, I didn't expect to love this as much as I did. The first book was good, really good, but I wasn't as invested in it as I was in this one. I mostly wanted to read this because I was curious as to how the story would develop further, especially the romance. Also, I do really love a college, secret magical society setting. Bloodmarked was absolutely riveting!!! The pace might be a bit slower than in the first book (its second half anyway), but the intrigue, the conflict, and the romance were all set on a whole other level. The way race and racial discrimination were addressed also left a strong impact, as strong as in the first book, and it was given the same attention as any other point in the book. Not to mention how incredible that ending is because I am still reeling. I hope Bree knows what she's doing, even though I can't for the life of me fathom what could be a good enough reason to just up and leave your loved ones for some demon king that wants to feed on your powers until there is nothing left of you. I really hope the next book comes out soon so I can find out what the hell Bree was thinking. Admittedly, I was a little bummed to realise that I hardly remembered anything from the subplots or most of the secondary characters, but luckily that didn't affect my reading as much as I feared. Thankfully, I still remembered the important points, although this series is definitely due for a reread. I love finding those little clues and subtle foreshadowing after reading the sequels. This is another reason I want the next book as soon as possible. I just don't want to forget anything again.
Moreover, Bree Matthews becomes about a hundred times more interesting than she was before. She still has those badass-in-the-making vibes and by the end of the book they really start to come into effect. Her character arc didn't develop as much as I had anticipated, but I actually found that more realistic. She is still a teenage girl that is in over her head, with magic she doesn't know much about and enemies that want her dead left and right. In fact, she handles herself pretty well considering the situation she is in. I could tell as the ending neared that there will be more to her character in book 3 and I cannot wait to explore that.
As for two of my favourite white boys, Nick and Selwyn, they have to deal with their own problems now, not that they didn't have to before but it become about a hundred times worse and Bree isn't there for moral support and romantic drama to distract them anymore. Nick isn't as worse off as Selwyn but he does have to deal with the fact that both his Kingsmage and his girlfriend are in some serious trouble and he can't really do anything about it as far as we know, at least. Sure, he is the only one who is safe now, as opposed to his situation in the majority of this book, but there is still a lot on his plate.
Then there's my poor half-demon baby Sel is in a real bind now. His demon side has taken over him, which makes him dangerous to be around, especially when it comes to Bree and her magic. It kills me to see them apart, especially after everything that happened between them. At least he finally reunited with his mom, not that we get to see it, but still. This book did nothing to change my feelings for this complicated, adorable boy, in fact, they actually intensified. His character development was greater than any other character's in the book, even Bree's and I loved seeing him gradually letting his vulnerability show in front of Bree, as his feelings for her kept growing.
Besides, the best thing about these three is their complicated relationship with each other. I don't really care for love triangles. I don't love or hate them, but this one I am deeply invested in and that is because it is a TRUE love triangle. It's not just a girl torn between two guys that love her as much as she loves them. The guys had feelings for each other too at some point in the past. Nick and Selwyn were in love with each other in the past, and even though that love was toxic, they still care deeply and love each other. Bree's appearance in their lives may have inadvertently brought strife between them in the first book, but now she seems to have brought them closer together, in spite of her feelings for both boys making their situation more complicated. Personally, my main ship is Bree and Selwyn. I've loved their chemistry and dynamic since book one and I've been obsessed ever since. However, I've been really into polyamorous relationships lately, so I'm kind of hoping for a triad even though I know it's probably not happening. 👀👀 I'm happy either way, though I will not accept any other alternative. 😇😇
Finally, Alice and William, my two favourite secondary characters in this series, have been nothing but pure and lovable treasures in the entirety of this book. No one else could ever come close to these two. They are both fiercely loyal, caring, brave, and level-headed (a necessity when evading capture with Bree and Sel), and the best companions those crazy kids could ever ask for. Nick is the exhausted single parent that constantly has to take care of and Alice is just a constant voice of reason in a cacophony of arguing and stubbornness. One thing that caught me by surprise what the antagonism-to-reluctant-friendship between Sel and Alice that had me in stitches over and over again. I really hope I get to see more of them in the next book, even though Sel isn't being himself at the moment and Alice is in a freaking coma!!! Seriously, things couldn't be any shittier...🥲🥲Everyone better be whole and hail soon, that's all I'm saying, otherwise I will not hesitate to file a lawsuit. 🤷🏻♀️🤷🏻♀️
i don't think any word can adequately describe how i'm feeling rn. that ending. it made me so ragey and eagerly awaiting the next book and fuck, i'm so fucking in love with these characters and this world. in my top books of 2022!!
It pains me to write this review. Legendborn is one of my favorite books of all time, so it’s truly disappointing for me to hate the sequel this much and it’s making me question what I even liked about the first book.
Legendborn was a well-crafted fantasy with rich Arthurian mythology, interesting characters, and a believeable love story that occured on the side. In contrast, Bloodmarked was an angsty love triangle where the main character cheats on her boyfriend, all the characters are annoying, and most of the mythology from the first book doesn’t even matter.
A huge majority of the first book was just getting the readers accustomed to how the whole lines idea works with the descendants of the Knights of the Round Table, yet most of the lines barely even matter in this sequel. The only lines who matter are Arthur, Lancelot, and Gaiwan. Why was there so much effort put into laying out how the Arthurian mythology works in the first book if most of the lines and all of the squires aren’t even going to matter in the sequel? It makes me so mad. I got so fascinated with how the whole world works in the first book, but my fascination didn’t carry over to this book. At least one squire should’ve joined the main crew in Bloodmarked because then maybe it would feel like the complex Arthurian mythology from the first book actually mattered in this one. It felt like this book wasn’t really a continuation of the first book but rather a spin-off book involving a few of the characters from the first book.
It’s impossible to get farther into my review without mentioning the mess that is the love triangle. It was pretty obvious that there was going to be a love triangle between Bree, Sel, and Nick from the first book and based on the cover, I knew that this book was going to develop the Sel portion of the love triangle, but I didn’t expect for it to be the major plot. Every fantasy element and friendship was shoved to the side just so that Bree and Sel’s relationship could develop. What pisses me off the most though is that it’s straight up cheating in this one because Bree is in an estabilished relationship with Nick. Sel even acknowledges this by referring to Nick as Bree’s boyfriend. They both know it’s cheating yet they choose to flirt and sometimes do more despite that. Nick didn’t even really matter to the love triangle in this story. He was completely out of the picture for 99% of this book, so it didn’t even feel like a well balanced or a well-written love triangle. Had Nick been in the story more and had Nick not been in a relationship with Bree, I wouldn’t have minded the love triangle as much. I generally don’t mind love triangles, but this one got on my nerves. I also felt like the Kingsmage oath should’ve prevented Sel from acting on his feelings for Bree. Tracy Deonn thought through every last detail of how the Kingsmage oath would work to make Sel loyal to Nick, but wouldn’t making moves on Nick’s girlfriend make Sel disloyal to Nick? Why isn’t there a clause concerning romance in the Kingsmage oath? It doen’t make sense to me.
The plot of this book (when you ignore the love triangle elements) was a problem for me as well. The characters kept going in circles. They didn’t actually do much to advance their causes until the very end of the book. It felt like they would take one step forward and then all of a sudden they’d be back down onto the step that they were just on previously. This caused the pacing of the story to drastically slow down and it made the plot truly unable to progress for much of the story. Again, this book’s main purpose felt like it was to advance the love triangle and not much else. It’s the worst case of second book syndrome that I’ve ever read. I also have one more plot criticism that I’ll hide in spoiler tags because it contains a major spoiler:
Now there were a few characters who I actually liked, but their scenes were very miniminal. I may read the final book if the synopsis makes it seem like these characters will be major players in the book. These characters are Nick, Greer, and Lark. Greer especially was basically non-existent in Bloodmarked, but had they been in the story more, I might’ve enjoyed this one.
Most of the rest of my review will simply be a rant about the characters in this book and I don’t even feel bad about it. I had to suffer through over 500 pages of these annoying characters, so I deserve a space to rant.
First of all, Bree. She carried a lot of the first book for me, but she felt like an almost entirely different person in this book. She became a stubborn and angsty teen. She was even stubborn with her friends and people she should trust. Her stubborness got her places and helped her discover who she was in Legendborn, but her stubborness went too far in this book. She also seemed to have a mutual respect and love for Nick in the fist book, but all of a sudden her respect and love for him disappeared because of a part demon boy who treated her like garbage. It made me lose respect for her, too, because she had plenty of opportunities to talk to Nick yet she couldn’t even respect Nick enough to break up with him before she started flirting with Nick’s Kingsmage.
Then Sel - the part demon who treated Bree like garbage. I couldn’t stand how he treated Bree like scum for 97% of the book but then all of a sudden he decides to be nice so that he can start being romantic with her. He seemed to be completely inconsiderate of Bree’s feelings but all of a sudden Bree is supposed to just forgive his behavior and be with him? He was possessive over her, too. He was like an Edward Cullen level of jerk, which if you love Edward, you’ll love Sel in this book but I hate Edward, hence, why I hate book two Sel. I really liked Sel in the first book, so it sucks that I hated him in this one. He had a potential to become better than Nick, but his character arc didn’t progress in a way that I liked.
I feel bad for not liking Alice because she truly seemed to care for Bree, but her mannerisms and personality were annoying. I’ve read several best friend characters like her in young adult novels and they never fail to get on my nerves.
I’m only mentioning Valec briefly because my annoyance with him seems small compared to the other characters, but why was he hitting on Bree when Bree’s a literal minor? It was borderline pedophilia.
I have to mention William, too, since he’s important to this book but I just feel really indifferent to him. I liked him at first and though it’s harsh for me to say this, I got sort of bored with him by the end of this book.
I’m glad that I only read Legendborn earlier this year so that I didn’t have to wait the full two years just to read this disappointing sequel, but I’m still mad that Bloodmarked didn’t live up to the first book. As I said earlier in my review, I may continue on with this series since there’s a few characters who I actually enjoy in this story, but this series went downhill really fast for me and I’m really upset by it.
wow. all i can say is wow. after 2 years (and some change) being back in bree’s world was refreshing to say the least. i loved this book! there’s so much raw emotion in this book it’s unbelievable. the grit and will of bree is some of the many attributes i love about her. this book is darker and more complex than legendborn, but with that it also brings so much more understanding of the characters and the world. i found myself laughing, crying, and even raging! i also loved the adventurous tone of this story. it felt like a rollercoaster ride and was so exhilarating i didn’t want to miss a second. there are some parallels i personally made to percy jackson while reading this story (in a broader sense of the fanasty genre) that i LOVED! i mean i was in this book from page 1 to page 551! all in. tracy deonn, thank you for bringing my characters home to me again, but also i have a few words because some scenes made me shake!
"Arthur e il popolo dei Minimei" è stato il libro che mi ha fatto capire che io sto al fantasy come le api stanno al polline. Sono passati tanti anni eppure non è cambiato nulla. Amo il genere fantastico, perdermi in mondi in cui la magia è reale, in cui basta crederci per diventare chiunque.
Bloodmarked mi ha ricordato Arthur. Questo non è un YA, è IL YA. Non nel senso negativo che tante persone usano per definire un libro, ma nel senso che, se letto all'età a cui si rivolge, può fare tanto. Bloodmarked è quel libro che potrebbe creare nuove generazioni di amanti di fantasy.
C'è tutto. Un'eroina con una crisi d'identità che non sa di chi fidarsi e finisce per perdere e poi ritrovare se stessa, amicizia, famiglia, un triangolo amoroso (che pian piano mi ucciderà) e un mondo che fa paura, ma che si deve imparare ad affrontare. Il tutto scritto in maniera sublime. I colpi di scena non mancano e i dialoghi sono così ben studiati, che Tracy Deonn lascia come l'impressione che scrivere un libro sia un gioco da ragazzi, che può farlo chiunque.
L'unica nota negativa che mi sento di dare al libro è che ho trovato il finale troppo frettoloso, ma dall'altra parte capisco che: 1. Il libro è narrato in prima persona e, dal momento che la protagonista è "svenuta" durante tutto l'atto, ha senso che le cose vengano descritte molto velocemente solo una volta finite. Avrei comunque preferito un altro pov per quel pezzo?! Si. Possibilmente di Selwyn. Però capisco anche che... 2. lasciare il lettore con un "aspe aspe aspe wtf aspe COSA STA SUCCEDENDO aspe FERMIIIII", è un ottimo modo per finire un libro e assicurarsi la vendita del successivo. Almeno, con me funziona.
Maybe I’ll actually be able to get some coherent thoughts down about this later, but for now OH MY GOD??? THIS WAS SO GOOD! An absolutely incredible follow up to Legendborn. Tracy Deonn does it again. This woman has me hook, line, and sinker.
I have very mixed feelings about this book, much as I did for Legendborn. On the one hand, I felt a certain excitement when I started reading this that I have not felt about a book in a while. However, that excitement was waning by the end as I was lost as to what was supposed to be the primary focus or objective of the story anymore.
Despite the problems I’m going to address, I still mostly enjoyed this. I was pretty quickly hooked, and I liked where things seemed to be going in the beginning. There are many characters I still really love (Alice and William, my beloveds) and plenty of moments where I did not want to put the book down. I want to know what’s going to happen, and I will definitely continue on with the series!
Ultimately though, I think I let my love for the concept and the final few chapters of Legendborn (and also the beautifully drawn cover for Bloodmarked) really overshadow all the issues I had. So, it wasn’t until I was in the thick of this book, that I remembered that I do have a lot of problems with this series. I just went into this with my expectations set a little too high.
There are a lot of nitpicky things I could probably get into, but I really have four major problems with Bloodmarked, and looking back, they are pretty similar to the issues I had with Legendborn.
- The plot of this is ALL over the place. After the first 50-100 pages, a path forward started to take shape, and I was down for it. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I was willing to go where things seemed to be leading. I thought that rest of the book would be Bree trying to master her powers while they search for Nick. However, essentially none of that proceeds to happen. The characters constantly set out to do something, make no progress, and then immediately change their minds or get sidetracked. I think a good story strikes a balance between the plot driving the characters and the characters driving the plot. This book is pretty much solely plot driving the characters. Bree and her friends constantly get put in situations where they have to pivot and make a new plan, so much so that it feels like there is no goal in mind. Nick is no longer a priority. Camlann is no longer a priority. Bree figuring out her powers is no longer a priority. The characters are just reacting to all the little mishaps that they stumble into without a sense that they are moving towards anything. It’s like going on a road trip but your only plan is just to make it from gas station to gas station, no end destination in mind and no way of knowing when you’ve reached the end.
- Bree is majorly sidelined throughout most of the book. She supposedly has all this power and strength, but she is never allowed to use it, nor does she really know how. Much of this book is her being rescued by someone else, be it William, Alice, Sel, or new guy, Lark. Other characters are constantly making decisions for her, and when she does decide something for herself, she usually ends up putting everyone in danger. I really liked Bree in the first book, and it’s not that I didn’t like her in this but more so that it felt like she didn’t get an opportunity to do anything. She felt devoid of motivations and agency. I wanted her to get a chance to shine before the final 50 pages.
- Deonn really went full throttle 2010s YA fantasy love triangle in this. By the end of Legendborn, I had both hopes and fears for the Sel/Bree/Nick love triangle. Unfortunately, all the potential nuance was stripped from their dynamic in Bloodmarked. Taking a page straight from the Twilight saga playbook, Nick is absent for the majority of this book, and it feels like this is solely to get him out of the way so Sel and Bree can have development (à la Jacob and Bella in New Moon). Sel, who I have a love/hate relationship with, goes full on broody, possessive YA hero. He is exhausting, and Bree is often not much better. I thought Bloodmarked would at least give us a Bree and Sel who are beginning to understand one another, but their relationship at the start is once again fraught with hostile tension for seemingly no reason. It takes them forever to have any sort of productive conversation. I thought maybe their relationship would be built upon something a little deeper than just initial attraction, and we sort of get that from Bree. She does feel protective over Sel in a way that’s not necessarily just romantic. She doesn’t want other people to judge him, and she trusts and believes in him. But from Sel we just get the usual YA bullshit where Bree is the strongest, prettiest, bravest, kindest girl he has ever met and therefore he must love her, and sorry, but that's boring! That's so boring and has been done a million times! Nick is essentially a non-character in this book, and Sel and Bree do not give a rat’s ass about him no matter how much they say they do.
- Lastly, what is even going on at this point? What is the end goal of the series? There have been so many breadcrumbs dropped throughout these two books, and I have no idea where they are leading…but not in a good way. We’re introduced to a lot of new characters in this, and a lot of characters from book one just kind of drop off the face of the earth. What’s going on with all the other Scions? What’s up with Lark? Is he relevant? Do I need to remember him? What’s up with the Order? They are so important at the start and the get totally forgotten in the middle and then pop back up in the end to do basically nothing. What the hell is a Morgaine and what are they up to? Who is this other potential Scion of Lancelot that the Order has supposedly identified? What on earth is Nick trying to do? So Bree is cursed now? What exactly does that mean (sorry but the curse is endlessly confusing to me)? Is this Camlann thing happening or not? Why does no one seem to be super worried about it anymore? Why exactly did Bree decide to do what she does in the end? Where is that going to take us? What exactly did Sel do in the end? Is that something we knew he could do? And did we know what the consequences would be? And uh, what's up with Bree's dad? Is he worried about her? Is the school worried about her? She's only 16, it feels like people should be worried about her. What about Alice's parents? I just have so many questions and don’t really know where things are going at all. It’s possible I missed some of the answers to these questions, but that’s part of my issue. There is so much information being thrown at you at all times that it’s hard to keep track of it and what it might mean for the characters and the future of the story. Sometimes it feels impossible to decide what is meaningful information and what is just throwaway filler nonsense.
In general, YA fantasy is not really a genre I gravitate towards anymore, but there’s a certain spark and drama to the genre that I feel is sometimes missing in adult fantasy. On the flip side, I think that occasionally that drama is taken too far. Plot progression and figuring out interesting ways to establish a magical world are sacrificed for angst and melodrama. The YA books that I still find myself enjoying are able to balance that angst and melodrama with something more grounded. The Legendborn series is one that I think has almost struck that balance, but something is still just a little off for me. Idk, at the end of the day, I am an adult reading a book that is intended for an audience much younger than me so do with my review what you will.
I wouldn’t recommend this to YA skeptics, but if you have a decent amount of fondness for the genre, then I think you shouldn’t have any problem finding something to like in the Legendborn series! Though at times the pacing and plotting is confusing and clunky, Tracy Deonn writes with so much heart that it’s almost impossible to not enjoy yourself at least a little, and I wouldn't be surprised if I end up loving the final(?) installment of this trilogy(?) whenever it comes out a million years from now.
“We ran for many reasons. We ran to protect ourselves. We ran so we would not die, so that our daughters could live.”
Bloodmarked was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it absolutely did not disappoint me. This book was the perfect blend of carrying the story forward along with new elements that added to the world building of both the Legends of Arthur and Rootcraft. Bloodmarked picks up just a little bit after Legendborn, when Bree's entire world was shaken to it's core - she gets little to no reprise and is immediately thrown into a new wild chase to find out how to harness her new abilities and learn more about Rootcraft.
Unlike the first book, Bree knows more about this hidden Knights of the Round Table world, which means there's a lot less info dumping in this book. Thankfully Tracy still gives us a bit of a rundown because I've always found the structure of the world hard to keep straight. We are introduced to another branch - The Regents, who want to keep her safe more than anything else, even to the extent of hiding her away. Seeing this expansion of the legends made sense, since they needed more manpower.
Bree was incredible in this as always and we finally got to see her friends (Alice and William) take on a larger role. We also get to see more of Sel - and his possible descent into his demon self. It was pretty much tragic, lovely and hilarious to see. We know there's still a massive love triangle between Sel, Nick and Bree - and with Sel outright saying that he's Bi and had a huge massive crush on Nick, I can only hope that this ends with a happy relationship for all of them. They're all so connected with each other, via love and oaths, that it's the only way I can see it ending well.
There is such a strong emphasis of grief, anger, rage and acceptance in this book that I felt like I was going through it with the characters. Even with all this, Bree still gets a few moments of Black girl joy, her birthday being one of the sweetest scenes in a book I've ever read. Bloodmarked went in a direction I couldn't have predicted & I blame that on my own creativity, but it was such a perfect book. I cannot wait for book 3.
rep// Black MC, Bi MC, Asian SC, various queer side & minor characters
Considering how much I loved the first book, I was kind of disappointed with this sequel 😢 I really struggled between 2 and 3 stars but am leaning more towards not enjoying this so am going with 2 stars.
🆗 I THOUGHT THE BOOK was well-paced and had a lot of exciting things happening, but it also felt a little too chaotic and disjointed sometimes. The story seemed to introduce random new plot lines without really closing out some of the open plot lines from book #1.
✅ I’M STILL VERY impressed by how robust the world and magic system is in this series and I do really like Tracy Deonn’s writing. All the rules can be a little confusing sometimes, but it’s nice to read a book with a world that’s more outside the box
❌ THE BREE/NICK/SEL LOVE TRIANGLE was so incredibly disappointing for me. Nick wasn’t even a character for like 90% of the book, yet it still felt like Bree and Nick’s romance made more progress than Bree and Sel’s did. I had such high hopes for Bree and Sel, but the character arc for Sel in this just made me really frustrated. I don’t even care who she ends up with tbh because I’m not particularly passionate about any of them anymore. This book really ruined my Sel ship with how self-destructive both Bree and Sel were acting 🥲
❌ THE ACTUAL ROMANCE was disappointing to me too. I expect more from the second book in a series that has such a heavy focus on the romance, even if it’s YA. The romance still felt painfully PG. Any kiss scenes were so mehhhh. I guess I’ve just been spoiled lately with how steamy some of the new YA fantasy-romances have been and I expected this to be similar, but it was not.
✅ THE REPRESENTATION and darker themes about racism were still present in this sequel. I would say the racism and discrimination in this book were much less subtle and much more heavy handed than in the first book, which made me root for Bree even harder.
❌ BREE’S DECISION AT THE END was really something… it felt completely out of nowhere and seemed to go against everything we’ve learned about root so far 🤔🤔 In general, I felt like Bree’s character was much more annoying in this book and seemed way less logical and way more like a damsel in distress
Overall, I was really excited to read this sequel but I think my excitement with this series has kind of died down. I think I’ll still continue and find out how the story ends but I’m definitely not sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the next book to be released.
Full review to come. My heart feels like it was cooked in an air fryer and my soul is the equivalent of an empty caprisun. So, clearly, I am in shambles, but am aware enough to stress this very important point: I love Bree so damn much.