Hello Kittens! I just finished reading a really awesome book and couldn’t wait to tell you all about it. I was actually slated to read Christopher Paolini’s new release, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, as well this week, but I got so invested in this book that I decided to table the Paolini book until I was done. It really surprised me because the Paolini book is one of my most anticipated releases for the year. This book is a little bit of an underdog in that I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about it yet, but I feel certain that we’ll be hearing more about it soon. I loved the writing and the storyline and hope that some network sees fit to adapt this into a tv series or movie at some point in the future. Also, check out that amazing cover!
Author: Tracy Deonn
Author website: https://tracydeonn.com/legendborn
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (imprint of Simon & Schuster Children)
Publish date: September 15, 2020
Brianna Matthews is a young woman who gets accepted to a special program on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill for high school kids to get a taste of the college experience. She embarks on this new experience as she is freshly grieving the death of her mother, a woman who was not happy that Bree was choosing this particular adventure. Bree’s last moments with her mother were a fight about her acceptance into the UNC program and her desire to spend her summer on the campus. Now, that fight fills Bree with remorse and she is struggling to deal with her guilt about it while also embracing the freedom from constant memories and condolences that living on campus is giving her.
From almost her first night on campus however, strange things are happening around Bree. The longer Bree is at UNC, the more she sees things that most others don’t seem to see and when she meets a group of students who also seem to be aware that strange things are happening, she is drawn into centuries old traditions and secret societies.
This is Deonn’s first published novel (she has contributed to other works) and it takes a contemporary look at the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. It takes the story the reader knows and adds a healthy dose of Black girl magic, both literally and figuratively. Bree is a feisty character who is struggling to come to terms with her grief and her abilities in a world where it’s not always clear who she can trust. With the help of a friend from back home and some tough-as-nails ancestors, Bree will confront her destiny and help change the world. This book is the first in a continuing series, so don’t expect to have everything wrapped up perfectly in the end, but this book is an incredibly satisfying contemporary YA fantasy that is filled with multiple magic systems and a lot of wit.
Why I liked it:
The writing in this book is phenomenal. I highlighted so many quotes and passages on my Kindle. The author’s explanations of how Bree is dealing with her grief are incredibly poignant, and I appreciated that she allows the character to express the frustration and exhaustion that deals with managing other people’s feelings when you are dealing with grief.
I loved that there was more than one magic system at play here and I really appreciated the Author’s Note at the end that explained the origin of one of those systems. I also know from experience that the descriptions of UNC’s campus are spot-on. Deonn really conveys a great sense of setting without getting bogged down in those descriptions.
What I would like to change:
I felt like things get a little muddled towards the very end of the book. I was missing a little bit in the way of explanations after the big battle. I also felt that there was a portion of the book at the end that dealt with a possession where the spirit of the person was weaved in and out of the narrative at will. That felt a little at odds with how the procedure was initially described by the person who was possessed. It just seemed like a convenience for the narrative that needed a little more development.
Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My library rating: While there are instances of racism and hints of violence both on and off the page, I think the book is so well-written that anyone over the age of 13 should be able to read it without significant issues. The book addresses issues with race both past and present but gives us a character who responds to both with grace and realistic anger.
5 glasses of lemonade= you could recommend this book to anyone. There is nothing in here that is going to upset anyone and you could start handing it out on street corners.
My personal preference rating: I gave this title 5 stars. It was one of my favorite YA fantasy books of the year so far.