Don’t make your life about the loss. Make it about the love.”Tracy Deonn
Summary From Book
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.
I didn’t think I would love this book as much as I did. I’ve been on an adult smut kick, so going to a YA fantasy was a shock to my system. However, I could not stop reading this book once I started. A friend of mine was raving about how amazing this book was, so I decided to pick it up (I also have two copies of it from subscription boxes). I was not disappointed!
The author shares their take on the story of Merlin and it is beautifully done. I found myself a bit overwhelmed with information and following all the bloodlines and things, but there’s a super helpful cheat sheet in the back of the book that saved me. I’m usually not into the Merlin-esque fantasy but Deonn did a phenomenal job making it captivating.
I LOVED Bree so damn much. What a hardcore character. I loved her personality and how she speaks up for herself. She wants to find out about her mother so she is going to do whatever it takes to get answers. I was wary of her best friend for the first like ¾ of the book. I thought Deonn was going to come back and make her a bad guy, but that didn’t happen (thank goodness – don’t do Bree like that)! The main love interest in the book, Nick, was a decent character. He was a bit dull for my tastes and I found myself shipping Bree with Selwyn…I’m hoping that there’s a second book and that that specific relationship is explored more. We all know I’m a sucker for the bad boy. Speaking of Sel…what a guy. I HATED him at first but once we actually got to see into his character; swoon (it can’t just be me, right?). The side characters were also pretty great. They played a part in the plotline and I appreciated how Deonn didn’t add them in and then make them insignificant. They had purpose.
Deonn also tackles racism and microaggressions that people have toward people of color. Bree acknowledged the issues and brought to light why some of the thing that were said were inappropriate, even if the person saying them didn’t understand or thought they were “just joking”. I appreciated that Bree was a character of color and that Deonn included the hardships that she faces, even in a fantasy based book. So often we get characters of color and they don’t face any hardships or issues, and it isn’t relatable or realistic. Kudos to Deonn for being authentic in her writing.
Overall, the plot of the book was enjoyable. There was A LOT of detail and building of the Merlin lines and story, but it was done gracefully. I also like the Hunger Games-esque feel to the story. However, Bree was even more badass than Katniss, IMO. I was rooting for Bree and scared for her all at once. She had absolutely no training for anything related to this world, but she didn’t let that stop her.
When the story ended I immediately had to research if there was going to be a book two…all I found was that there’s a possibility for one in 2021. I’m hoping that’s true! I can’t wait to continue this story and see where the magic takes Bree and the others.