Book five of my challenge and a little deviation from my original list but a very good deviation.
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.
I knew that this was a book that I wanted to read, it has been on my radar for quite some time, but when I got this audiobook I actually didn’t look at the description to remind myself what it was about, so it was a delightful surprise when I discovered that it has elements of the legend of King Arthur weaved into the story, but I have to admit that there were just so many amazing things going on in this story that I was totally absorbed within minutes.
I can already tell you that this review will not do this book justice because I don’t know where to begin there are so many incredible elements to this story and they kept being layered on in such a clever and exhilarating way. It really has got a little bit of everything, a secret society, mystery, magic, monsters, a rich history, romance, diversity, I didn’t expect there would be so much in this story and that it is all crafted with such ease just shows how spectacular the writing is. It is also a book that tackles some really important themes, like grief and racism, but does so within the context of the story and explores them in a way that is both natural and accessible and ties in perfectly with the plotline, I wish I could tell you just how perfectly but I don’t want to spoil it, all I’ll say is that I’ve never been happier that the actions have consequences in this book.
I loved the magic in this book and I loved that there were variations of it, I don’t think that I have come across a magic system before that has differences depending on your ancestry and I really enjoyed getting to explore what this meant for each of the characters in the book. The world-building was fantastic as I mentioned there is a lot involved in the storyline but I felt that the author explained everything so well and built a clear picture of the setting, I do think that the bonus of the audiobook is that I maybe didn’t have to struggle over the pronunciation of words as there are a lot of Welsh terms which is maybe not so easy to pick up if you are reading them off the page but I could be wrong.
The characters were brilliant, I loved Bree, I thought her development through the story was amazing and I was glad to be going on the journey with her not only to discover what happened to her mum but also just to discover more about herself, her past, how her grief has affected her and how she ultimately becomes stronger for all these experiences that she has. I love that she constantly surprises people with her resilience and strength and that it isn’t something that she started out with it is something that she had to discover for herself.
Sel is such an interesting character because he is the mysterious, kind of brooding type and because he is suspicious of Bree, I enjoyed getting to see a slightly different side to him as I got further into the story. Nick is another character that goes through a lot of change, first as the kind of goofy guy that Bree could have a crush on, to an ally in helping her figure out what happened to her mum and then as a powerful player in the secret society, I liked the chemistry between Bree and Nick and I was intrigued to see if it would cause them any problems within the Order but after having read the book I am desperate to see how their relationship will move forward.
There were also a lot of characters that were part of the Order that I will admit that I sometimes had trouble keeping track of who was who and how they fit within the hierarchy. As we were headed toward the climax of the book I had it figured out but trying to remember who the character was and their rank wasn’t easy to begin with.
The narration by Joniece Abbott-Pratt was great she did an amazing job of making the characters voices clear and bringing Bree to life, I loved that I could really feel what Bree was feeling through the tone of her voice. I am not sure if she is from the South but her accent was very convincing and had a lot of warmth, she also has a fantastic creepy monster voice, there was only one that I felt she fell a little short on which was Felicity’s English accent but props for trying because posh English is not easy and it was still a good effort.
I feel like there is so much more that I want to say but really you just need to go read this book! Legendborn is a definite favourite read for this year and I am so looking forward to the next book in the series, this one does end on a bit of a cliffhanger and I am desperate to know what will happen next!