WOW. WOW. WOW. I cannot put to words exactly how deeply I was sucked into the world Tracy Deonn spun so beautifully in Legendborn.
You have never read a King Arthur story like Deonn’s.
I have loved the man, the myth, and the legend of King Arthur for as long as I can remember. Reading about Merlin’s magic, the Knights of the Round Table, and the undying loyalty of Camelot’s people to their king and their kingdom, it’s enough to sweep me away into the best sort of dream. I was blown away by Tracy Deonn’s twist on the story of which I thought I’d seen every variation imagined.
Deonn’s protagonist, Bree Matthews, could not have experienced more pain and change in the span of a few short months if she tried. In one tragic accident, she lost her mother, disconnected with her father, and made the choice to leave home to pursue Early College, a program that allows high school juniors to live on campus and take college courses. Within a week of arriving at UNC – Chapel Hill, Bree discovers monsters are real (even though she’s not supposed to be able to see them), King Arthur and his Knights were/are real (and really really white), and entering a competition to be bonded to a descendant of the Knights might help her uncover the truth behind her mother’s death (effectively making her the first Black competitor in…ever).
Deonn wastes no time letting readers inside the minds and hearts of her characters, nor does she abandon readers as they orient themselves to the world she’s created in Legendborn. It’s impossible not to love Russ and Nick and, yes, even the ever-grumpy Sel, as they help Page find her place in their world. It’s also impossible not to cringe at every micro-aggression and ignorant comment tossed at Bree by well-meaning (for the most part) people. The Root magic system is unique and captivating and beautiful. Deonn drew from West African lore and even some modern practices which creates an entirely new perspective on the welding of magic.
Bree’s story is Arthurian at its core, but it is beyond what every other young adult rendition of the classic story has ever dared approach.
Where many other fantasy books with Black main characters avoid or dismiss the racism that exists outside of the book’s reach, Deonn tackles discrimination, micro-aggressions, and downright ignorance while also creating an intoxicating magic system that will leave you dying to read book 2 and 3 and 4 and every other bit of Bree’s story Deonn is kind enough to share with us.
For goodness sake, please read this book. If not because you love Arthurian legends, then because you crave adventure, and if not even then, read this book so that authors of color, like Tracy Deonn, can get the recognition they deserve.
You will not regret picking up Legendborn, that’s a promise.
If you enjoyed Good Luck Girls , The Children of Blood and Bone, or The Belles, you are in for an absolute treat with this book.
Violence, racism, life-threatening circumstances, and family feuds