This review contains spoilers.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn has had a lot of praise. It has been a sensation on TikTok and other socials, and I can see why. The writing is fantastic. The twists are delicious. The themes are relatable and raw. The world was rich and the characters felt fully fleshed out. In fact, despite the fact
Sel should have been left for me totally unnecessary love triangle, this book was an easy 5-star right up until the last third for me.
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Because for me it was super strange, despite the context of the order, to have such a deep and nuanced conversation about race, in a place that was literally built on the backs of the enslaved, without mentioning Black men at ALL. In fact they came up missing from the entire book besides Bree’s father.
For me, racism and Black history cannot be spoken of in the context of the wider world WITHOUT mentioning men at all.
These ancestors that Bree met… Not a single one had been left vulnerable because of men taken away? Fathers of children sold? A lot of women’s suffering came directly because of what was done to men. There was almost every marginalised box ticked in the book, with all types of people who would usually be targeted by the types of racists that were in the order as well. But there was a way to include that rep. There were people in the book outside of the order too. So I don’t find it far-fetched to expect at least one Black male character somewhere.
It may seem like I am being harsh but Blood Like Magic, for example, was super woman-centred and matriarchal, with a IR relationship central to the story, that still didn’t erase men from conversation about race, family, and blood.
But even that was not the part that lost the star for me entirely. What dropped the star was the fact that the fact that the power came from actual r*pe and intent to murder felt almost glossed over.
This great source of power — exclusively available to Bree’s family — came from brutality, curse, and mingled blood, rather than from the resilience and strength of the ancestors… and the book ended before that could really sink in. And after all that, Bree didn’t even seem mad about it. She just had a little cry and went back to heart eyes for the ancestors of those who literally caused her entire line to lose their mothers. Who caused her to lose her mother. Whose ancestor had the cheek to take over her body.
If I had been Bree
that whole college would be getting lit up, rootcraft style you really couldn’t talk to me about oaths for a while.
I’m thinking (and hoping) that the next book in the series will help balance out these issues just a bit. The writing was great, and there is definitely now room for a wider conversation to be had, now that the truth about Bree has been revealed.
Oh and on a side note. I can totally recommend the audiobook if, like me, you like to listen and read together. Joniece Abbott-Pratt is the best narrator I’ve come across so far. Can you have an auto-buy narrator? If you can, she is the one for me!
TW: Violence, rape, racism, loss, death.
Format: Audiobook and Paperback
Listening Length: 18 hours and 54 minutes
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: Sept 2020
Filled with mystery and Southern Black Girl Magic, Tracy Deonn’s New York Times bestselling Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend. This is an explosive fantasy debut that’s perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas and Cinderella is Dead!
Some legacies are meant to be broken.
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants to escape. A residential programme for bright high-schoolers seems like the perfect opportunity – until she witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus….
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so-called ‘Legendborn’ that hunt the creatures down.
A mysterious 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 about her mother. Now Bree will do whatever it takes to discover the truth, even infiltrate the Legendborn. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and foretell a magical war, Bree must decide how far she’ll go for the truth. Should she use her magic to take the society down – or join the fight?
Winner of the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award.
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