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Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
Young adult

Legendborn

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Tracy Deonn, on your first book!

by Tracy Deonn

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Quick take

A mysterious society. A dangerous demon. A whole lot of magic. This is a modern-day feminist take on Arthurian legend.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Feminist

    Feminist

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical

    Magical

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BasedOnAClassic

    Based on a classic

Synopsis

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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Free sample

Get en early look from the first pages of Legendborn.
Legendborn

Prologue

The police officer's body goes blurry, then sharpens again.

I don’t stare at him directly. I can’t really focus on one thing in this room, but when I do look, his face shimmers.

His badge, the rectangular nameplate, his tie clip? All the little metal details on his chest ripple and shine like loose silver change at the bottom of a fountain. Nothing about him appears solid. Nothing about him feels real.

I don’t think about that, though. I can’t.

Besides, everything looks otherworldly when you’ve been crying for three hours straight.

The police officer and nurse brought me and my father into a tiny mint-green room. Now they sit on the other side of the table. They say they are “explaining the situation” to us. These people don’t feel real, but neither does “the situation” they keep explaining.

I don’t cry for my mother’s death. Or for myself. I cry because these strangers in the hospital—the nurse, the doctor, the police officer—don’t know my mother, and yet they were closest to her when she died. And when your people die, you have to listen to strangers speak your nightmare into existence.

“We found her on Route 70 around eight,” the police officer says. The air conditioner kicks on. The sharp scents of hospital-grade hand soap and floor cleaner blow across our faces.

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Why I love it

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.

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Member ratings (7,328)

  • Danielle A.

    Jacksonville, FL

    I ???????? DID ???????? NOT ???????? WANT ???????? THIS ???????? TO ???????? END! I absolutely adored this book! The magic, the world building, the characters and the story pulled me in as soon as I flipped to page one

  • Osreah B.

    Hallandale, FL

    Well written characters. The way the story explores some heavy topics is amazing. I could feel everything the characters were going through. Nothing to say but just read it! Now!!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • RoGina M.

    Chicago, IL

    Hands down my book of the year. History ✔️ Magic ✔️ Fantasy ✔️ It is always very well written and leave just enough to have you waiting for book 2, without feeling as if you missed out on something 1

  • Yavanna R.

    Arcata, CA

    Part “Lovecraft Country” part “Hunger Games” with a dash of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” seeped in Arthurian lore, this coming-of-age tale will grab you on page 1. Characters are endearingly flawed.

  • Carlie W.

    Hanover Park, IL

    I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this book because I’m not a King Arthur fan but but I was pleasantly surprised. The action and drama was captivating. Once it started I couldn’t put the book down.

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