Fabienne’s summer of Arthuriana continues! I’ve been lucky enough to get to read an eARC of the wonderful Legendborn a few weeks ago and I can assure you that it is worth every ounce of hype that it is getting! A thoroughly modern reimagining of the Arthurian legends meets Black girl magic featuring a set of amazing characters – I loved it and I cannot wait to read more! My finished copy is on its way and I will be rereading it as soon as I can.
Massive thanks to Netgalley and Margaret K. McElderry Books for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.
RELEASE DATE: 15/09/20
STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: 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. (from Margaret K. McElderry Books)
OPINIONS: As I’m in the process of writing my MA dissertation on modern reinterpretations of medieval mythology and legends, I have read an awful lot of them over the course of the last few months, so please trust me when I tell you that Legendborn truly is one of the very best. It is diverse, it is feminist, and it is a fantastic YA fantasy on top of exhibiting a deep understanding of the Arthurian corpus and making it its own. It is not merely a retelling of the classic King Arthur story, but it twists it in a way that is surprising and refreshing, mixing it up and turning it into something unique.
Not only that, but it mixes Arthuriana with Black girl magic, of which this world always needs more – Bree is a wonderful heroine, and the way Tracy Deonn manages to weave colonialism and slavery into the story and the Arthurian tradition is truly masterful. It makes Legendborn multi-faceted and layered – yes, it is a story that can just be read and enjoyed, but there was so much in the various timelines that a history nerd like me saw and got excited about and at the same time many things that people like me, who grew up white in Europe, often tend to forget and overlook because we are not personally confronted with them.
Another thing I absolutely loved about Legendborn is the fact that Bree is a very smart girl. The story is set on a college campus, and she has just entered early college. As someone who graduated High School early and went off to Uni at 16, I am always very excited when I get to read about characters I can identify with in that way – something that is incredibly rare. I’m not talking about characters that are constantly studying and great at doing homework, but naturally clever, and have a personality that truly enjoys learning and research. Thank you, Tracy, for giving me a book that makes me feel seen and combines it with my passion for medieval legends!
P.S. Legendborn also features two hot boys. There’s Nick, straight-laced cute boy, and Selwyn, resident slightly gothy bad boy… I recommend you add Legendborn on Goodreads ASAP and pre-order yourself a copy so you can decide whose team you’re on! You can get the UK edition via Waterstones here, and the US edition via Book Depository here.