Book Review: Legendborn

Marlee Sorrells, Editor-in-Chief

The debut novel of Tracy Deonn, ‘Legendborn’, is an immersive story that retells the legend of King Arthur through a modern-day college mystery. The story follows a 16-year-old African American girl, Bree Matthews, as she goes to an early college program in North Carolina. After the passing of her mother, Bree deals with grief and a new world full of mystery. Deonn wrote the story as a celebration of her heritage and in remembrance of her own mother who passed away while she was young. She researched spirituality that took place throughout each part of African culture and based her own form of magic through it. 

‘Legendborn’ is beautifully written and deals with grief and mental health with grace and accuracy. Deonn expertly wove the harshness and tragedies of life into the beautiful and joyous aspects of it. For example, one of her characters told Bree, “don’t make your life about the loss. Make it about the love.” This theme resonates throughout the book and is seen in so many instances where Bree is avoiding the idea of her mother and then ignoring the actual death, but her true power and strength comes when she remembers the love in her life.

King Arthur plays an interesting role in this story and provides interesting commentary on the morality of this fantasy world. Between the nuanced racist and sexist tones from the stereotypical, predominately white boys club, the main character faces adversity from every angle of her heritage. Using her own love for the legend, Deonn had the members of King Arthur’s heritage grow into more mature, open-minded individuals.

This book wove so much emotion into each sentence that I was not only interested in the plot and characters, but the sentences themselves. It is honestly one of the most well written contemporary fantasy novels that have been released and has the potential to be the first new fantasy powerhouse to overtake J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’. That being said, the book is a solid 10/10 and I highly recommend it.