A mysterious society. A dangerous demon. A whole lot of magic. This is a modern-day feminist take on Arthurian legend.
Good to know
Based on a classic
Why I love it
Author, The Guinevere Deception
We’ll get this out of the way upfront: I, an author of an Arthurian retelling, love Arthurian stories. Give me your noble kings, your star-crossed lovers, your wild magic supporting and subverting Camelot’s rule of law. But…I get tired of everything being about a sword. I get tired of the women in the narrative orbiting around men, waiting until the story needs a victim or a villain. I get tired of retellings that add nothing new.
As both a lover and a harsh critic of Arthuriana, you can trust me when I say I was absolutely blown away by Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn. The book follows Bree, a girl whose history has been rewritten with loss, whose heart has been forged in anger and pain and hope. After witnessing a shocking act of magic she was never supposed to remember, Bree embarks upon a quest to uncover the secrets of a mysterious society linked to none other than King Arthur’s knights.
I love how Deonn layers the Arthurian fantasy elements onto our modern world. And all those things—the present-day setting, the mythology, the magic and love and privilege—are thought-provokingly interrogated through Bree’s eyes. Bree feels real, and more than that, Bree feels specific. She’s raw and flawed and wonderful, the perfect heroine for a book that is action-packed and epic but always emotionally intimate. I honestly think no one but Deonn could have written this book. I’m so glad she did, and I’m so jealous you get to read it for the first time.
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.
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Easily one of the best books I’ve ever read. Ever. These characters, this story—they stuck with me for months after I finished reading it. Deonn seamlessly melds so many genres w/this one. READ THIS!!
Rare to find a book that’s a deep and sophisticated exploration of difficult themes such as generational trauma, racism, gender issues, grief, and more...while still just being a rollicking great read
Look I did not expect to love this so much. I heard good things but knew nothing about King Arthur and the round table and omgggg I need book 2 like now. Also am I the only one who’s in love with Sel?
I loved this book SO much!!! It was a great fantasy read, and also loved the diversity of characters & that it dealt with real world issues head on. I don’t usually write reviews, but had to here!!
I don’t even have the words to describe how amazing this book was. I devoured it. Such a great retelling using modern ideas. As well as the importance of recognizing the past and those who built it.
Fort Smith, AR
I've always been a big fan Arthurian retellings, and Tracy Deonn has brought something truly new & exciting to the (round) table with Legendborn - an intimate look at grief & being Black in the South.
San Jose, CA
This excited me from the beginning and i did not put it down for 3 days until it was finished. It is an easy read with a compelling story with enough intrigue and suspense to make it hard go put down
I love, love, LOVE this book. I couldn't wait to get back to reading it everything I had a couple free moments. This is my new all-time favorite book. Fun. Creative. Suspenseful. Energetic. Delightful
I was hooked within the first chapter. I had to know what happened next. I read this last month and I still think about it in February. I really enjoyed this book and our protagonist. Def recommend :D
Denver , CO
This book ended up being way more than a typical YA novel or a retelling of Arthurian legend. The way it tackles trauma, grief, the evils of white supremacy and Black Girl Magic legendary on its own.
East Point, GA
This book is perfection to me. I initially read this via audio from my library and just kept listening to it over and over again. When I had to return it, I decided I needed a hard copy. Just get it.
San Antonio, TX
Amazing! Although touted as young Adult, it really isn’t. It covers mature subjects on grief, racism and finding yourself. Throw in Arthurian legends and I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down!
Absolutely loved this book. Flawless execution of magic, Arthurian legend, black history, current (and not so current) events, and the authors own imagination. Just perfect. Cant wait for book two!
North Royalton, OH
I can't rate this high enough. New favorite book. Gorgeous and poignant interweaving of Arthurian legend with the cultural heritage of African Americans in a powerful way. So much fun along the way.
This modern twist on the Arthurian legend, set in North Carolina, updates the Round Table while also questioning chivalry in the 21st century. Where do persons of color find themselves in classics?
Rockford , IL
There was not ONE bad thing i can say about this book. It had everything, magic, POC main character, suspense, as well as touched on sensitive topics. It was well rounded and overall a MUST READ.
Hudsonville , MI
This was a perfect fantasy book. It has intrigue, romance, and was not afraid to address tougher topics like racism and the history of the American South in a realistic way that matched the story.
Grand Rapids, MI
A tale that crosses time and acknowledges the intersection of layers that impact and build a life: an earnest thirst for truth, an exhilarating hunt for fuller understanding, and a rich heritage.
First off, it was beautiful to see a book with a supernatural theme have a black female as the main character. This book touched upon so many parts of the black experience while integrating magic
I thought the ‘Merlin’ meets ‘Shadowhunters’ take was really cool and well done. Bonus points for the use of Welsh (and phonetic pronunciations). An absolute thrill, loved the twist! 10/10