Legendborn is the debut novel by Tracy Deonn, and what a debut it was. Secret societies, a plot full of twists and turns and relatable characters made for an incredibly mysterious read.
After losing her mother in a car accident, Bree Matthews separates from her past self and becomes what she calls ‘After-Bree’. With her memories of that night not entirely clear, Bree chooses to put up a wall against any memories of her mom.
A few months later she begins attending UNC-Chapel Hill, the college her mother also attended, for the early college program. After a disastrous first night, flying demons, an insufferable boy named Selwyn and a run-in with the police, Bree is appointed a peer mentor by the Dean of the school. This mentor is the ever so charming Nick Davis who turns out to be a member of The Order, a secret society dedicated to King Arthur and the Round Table.
Now thrown into a world beyond anything she thought was real, Bree must find out if this secret society is somehow linked to her mother’s life and death. She enlists the help of Nick to become a member of The Order so that she can find out more about their past.
I have found that I don’t read retellings very often and as this is only a loose retelling I really enjoyed the plot as I had no idea where it would go next. The twists and turns of this book were pretty much non stop, I’m talking shocking events happening right up until the last page.
Although this is definitely a fantasy novel it is set in the modern-day and features very modern issues. Racism is a topic that comes up often during Legendborn and is something that is quite timely right now. The societal structure of The Order is very much in favour of white men until Bree comes along and becomes a double anomaly by being both female and black. The fact that these issues were being raised makes this book one that I think people should be reading. It really opens your eyes on how black people were and are treated in the South which is not raised to educate but we are told about this as it is real and should not be ignored.
Bree was an interesting character to follow. Although imperfect she was a beacon of change for an organisation that really needed it. This is something that is very slow-moving throughout the book, as at a gala in the second half of the book all of the wait staff hired by The Order are black. However, it is an area that I hope we will see change in the next book. The Order is fighting for an important mission and it hurts to think that they are still upholding out-dated thoughts.
She found herself thrown into a world where the impossible was very much possible abut instead of running away she adapted and learnt more about herself. Powers of her own and an interesting wake-up call made an already strong-willed girl into an unstoppable woman. I actually kept forgetting that Bree is only 16.
The balance of fantasy with modern-day was done quite well. There were moments of fights against demons and magic (aether as it is known in Legendborn) being used. These were interesting however I do feel like a lot of the action was broken up when characters would say ‘spells’ in Welsh and I had no idea how to pronounce them. I’m a little ashamed at this as I am part Welsh, but maybe it was just me.
I am hoping in the second book that there will be a lot more action as the background to the characters and their powers have now been solidly set. I definitely want more Selwyn in book two as I found his character intriguing and wasn’t all that bothered by Nick. Sorry.
If you have read Legendborn, let me know your thoughts in the comments!