Legendborn Book Cover Legendborn
Tracy Deonn
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Sept 15, 2020

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.

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.

Her very first night at college, Bree sees something magical that no one surrounding her notices. When another party-goer fails to erase her memories of the night, Bree stumbles into a strange new reality. She can see things, smell them, and feel them, when others around her can’t. Even more startling is that she realizes that the death of her mother might not have been an accident.

She suspects that someone altered her memories that night as well. Suddenly that cute boy from a secret society called “Knights of the Round Table” might be the key to unlocking who her mother really was, and why someone would want her dead. Furthermore, Bree unlocks a magic within herself that traces back through her ancestors.

While discovering a whole world existing parallel to her own, Bree avoids acceptance of her life without her mother.

Bree utilized her college experience as a chance to escape the weight of grief for her mom. She hides behind mental walls creating whom she refers to as “after-Bree”. While it was unhealthy to avoid addressing her grief in this way, it’s precisely how she found the courage to tear down barriers in the secret society. Bree was the only girl in the room that didn’t originate from a founding family of their club. Everyone around her held secrets and magic older than she could imagine. All of it somehow linked to centuries old stories of King Arthur and his knights.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn is another Young Adult book that I would love to add to the required reading list at public schools.

There are plenty of moments that would be eye opening for today’s youth. The book is told from the perspective of an intelligent young black woman named Bree who is constantly treated as less than deserving of her achievements. At her South Carolina college her peers and adults alike drop not-so-subtle reminders that she is somehow beneath them for not being born white. Despite this, Bree remains proud of who she is and doesn’t shy away from her secret mission surrounding the death of her mother.

Bree’s determination to rise up everyday despite her nay-sayers is very inspiring. She discovers a lot more than magic running through her veins. She unravels a deep history of strong women passing that gift from one generation to the next. After centuries of control and abuse from others, Bree finds herself with the choice to either rewrite or repeat history. Readers will jump out of their chairs with the excitement of what comes next.