*I received this book as an arc from Net Galley for the Hear Our Voices book tour. All views expressed are my own.*
When they say college is a place that offers more than education and opportunities, I don't think they had secret societies dedicated to protecting the human realm from demons under the late King Arthur's regime in mind. Tracy Deonn captivates us with a magical tale of history, legacies, and creeds in her first solo novel, Legendborn.
Immediately, we are introduced to 16-year-old Brianna Matthews grieving over the death of her mother. To escape her trauma, she gets accepted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's residential program for bright high schoolers. It seemed like the perfect plan—until Bree witnesses a magical attack on her very first night on campus. Paralyzed from fright, she watches a flying demon feed on human energies. Is she the only one who can see this thing? While it seems that everybody else is oblivious to the scene, a mysterious teenage Mage acts and takes down the creature. Then he wipes Bree's memory of everything she saw … except he failed. Bree remembers everything! With trying to erase what Bree saw, the mysterious mage unlocks Bree's own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Mage was at the hospital.
Now that Bree knows there's more to her mother's death, she'll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the secret organization called "Legendborn" as one of their initiates. But when the Legendborn reveals themselves as the descendants of King Arthur's knights and explains that a magical war is coming, Bree must 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 enjoyed this book. Legendborn is the epitome of the slogan "Black Girl Magic." Bree is a strong brown skin girl that every black woman can relate to. She's smart, mildly spicy, and clever. She's also a bit of a hothead if crossed with ignorant comments about her sex and race. I so appreciated how Deonn dealt with the topic of racism and prejudice. Do you know the feeling of stepping into a Caucasian-majority room and eyes pinpoint you like pickings on a lineup? lineup? Do you know what it feels like for people to automatically assume you’re angry because of your passionate dialog? Do you know the feeling of people assuming you're poor because you might use social assistance to get closer to where you need to be? Deonn hits all the trigger points of microaggression black women tolerate every single day. I get so sick of hearing that Black females have so much sass and attitude, and I'm just thankful that Deonn didn't express us negatively.
I do have a love/hate relationship with how the story was told. Deonn weaved a very intricate tapestry, in which the final product came out dazzling. Never mind the SAT choice words I had to hurdle through to get there. Each thread represented a missing piece to Bree's investigation. At times I felt it overwhelming, but Deonn was able to tie all the sub-stories together. It was interesting to see how she blended the famous medieval King Arthur Tale with southern generational lore and magic. I wasn't sure how she was going to wrap it all up in the end, but the climax was worth it! I don't care that she left us with a cliffhanger! (Yes I do)
This is kind of awkward. I feel like that episode of American Dad where Stan couldn't figure out how to end his perfect contest paper before the due date, so I'll leave with this: Legendborn is out on September 15th.