ARC Review of Legendary ~ by Stephanie Garber
Flatiron Books, May 2018~ 416 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
My Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.
Note: I was lucky enough to be given a copy of the ARC of Legendary through NetGalley and Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my review of the book.
My Thoughts: First let me say that I LOVED Caraval! The setting, the romance, the mystery, and the constant plot twists– made it such a thrilling read. I loved that Tella and Scarlett had to rely on their love for each other in order to overcome their traumatic pasts, while also staying true to themselves. And I am happy to report that Legendary did not disappoint! It was just as good as the first book, if not better! Everything we thought we knew about “the game” in Caraval, is veiled in a whole new mystery here and it is absolutely magical!
Here’s what I loved most:
- I did have some reservations in book 1 with the Scarlett and Julian relationship– I found it disingenuous at times. The “good girl,” “bad boy” act was a little predictable. However, the romance in this book is completely different and it is Super steamy, mysterious, dangerous, and I loved it! But don’t worry, there is no shortage of bad boys in this book either! In fact, there are several of them and they are all completely swoon-worthy!
- I found some of the plot twists in book 1 predictable, but book 2 was full of surprises and twists that I didn’t see coming at all! I don’t want to spoil anything, but the twists in Tella’s game are so brilliantly crafted, while still leaving lingering questions for the next book.
- The “game” of Caraval continues to be a constant labyrinth of mystery, but the scope was so much bigger and more dangerous in book 2. Tella’s stakes for playing the game felt so much higher, so I was much more invested in her journey. It is not only her own destiny on the line, but her mother’s and Legends.
- In book 1, I also really wanted Scarlett to have more agency in her own game. However, Tella is everything you could want in a fierce female character. She plays the game on her own terms and stays true to herself throughout. I really fell in love with her character in this book.
- I loved that Garber played with the theme of “fate” in this book. I don’t feel that there was much of this theme in book 1, but I loved that so much of Tella’s story grappled with the idea of fate. From the Deck of Destiny to her mother’s ring, everything connected back so beautifully to a grand plan for Tella’s future.
Few Things that I didn’t like:
- The stark contrast between the sisters. They were just so different that it didn’t feel natural at times. I get that sisters are usually very different, but it seemed like Garber was going overboard in her attempt to make them complete foils of each other, maybe in order to make the two books contrast each other. This just seemed to be heavy handed at times.
- Sadly, Scarlett was not involved in this story much. This was a shame because one of the things that I loved so much about the first book was the dynamic of the sisters. Even though Scarlett was the one in the “game” in book 1, it still felt as if Tella was somehow working in her favor and doing her part to guide Scarlett behind the scenes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that feeling with this book. Tella felt very much on her own, so I was really missing the sibling support from this book.
All that aside, both Caraval and Legendary were brilliant, well written, and thrilling reads! I would recommend them to anyone looking for a little adventure, magic, and mystery. As always, I would love to hear from you. Leave me a message or come say “hi” on Instagram or Goodreads!
For more information on Stephanie Garber and her books, check her out on Goodreads: Stephanie Garber