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.
CWs & TWs
Racism, racial slurs, slavery, grief, death of a parent, death, violence, blood, gore, sexism, bullying, murder, medical content
Black MC, Taiwanese-american wlw side character, bi side character, non-binary supporting character, wlw side couple, basically a cast of BIPOC and diverse characters!
Are you ready? I am asking because this book here is my favourite read of the year so far, so I have a lot to say. Starting with this: this story is a masterpiece of storytelling. Not only because everything is perfectly balanced, the action, the breaks, the emotions, and the flashbacks. But also because the author uses everything she can to build her story and allow the reader to enter her universe the best of ways. She uses visual description, of course, but also the taste and the smell sense of her main character. And this, people, is one of the best thing I have ever experienced in a book. Because I really did feel like I was there every time she described how the place smelled like. I didn’t only feel like I could understand the main character, but like I was her.
The characters are all amazingly built, in their backstories and the way it impacted their current life and situation. As for the plot, everything here is balanced with a perfect precision that made me fall in love with every single character from this story. This, and the fact the writing style of this author is simply gorgeous, made me feel like reading one of the big names of modern fantasy. And you know what? I think you can add Tracy Deonn to this list. The characters are diverse, in their sexuality and genders, without it being part of the plot in any way. And that’s all we’re asking for, really, to be here, like this. As you might have guessed by now, the main character is black. And the whole book evolves, in a way, around that.
What I mean is, this story isn’t only about a black girl taking part in a weird-ass Arthurian society in her university, it goes beyond that. This is a story of banalized racism, of culture, of heritage and of what it means to carry with you the pain of your ancestors, while living in a world in which the people who tortured them are praised for it. It is a story about finding your place when you damn well know there are stupid people everywhere willing to stop you because of the way you look. But none of those is there explicitly: all the messages are carried by the fantasy world building and the characters interaction.
This book is also about grief and how to live with it. How to manage the anger, then the pain, then the guilt and everything in between. And the author used every part of her plot and her world to tell this deeply meaningful story of loss and remembrance. Every character has lost something, in a way, and experienced the afterwards differently. Because this is what our world looks like: we experience things, but all of us will react and learn differently for it. This book, for me, is a story about knowing when to fight, finding your place and managing your grief. Basically, you take The Shadowhunters chronicles but you add a way better representation of minorities, some Arthurian legends, a sassy kind-of-wizard and an amazing bunch of idiots, and you have this masterpiece of a book.
Have you read this one?
Do you like retellings? Do you some recommendations for me?