Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Publication Date: May 29, 2018 (US)
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
ARC provided by Flatiron Books via Netgalley for an honest review.
Both Caraval and Legendary have everything I always look for in a fantasy novel. A unique world with an interesting magical system, characters that are not necessarily who you think they are, a world with its own mythology and stories and a plot that keeps me reading into the wee hours of the morning.
I know many people had issues with Scarlet, the main character in Caraval, but I didn’t. She wasn’t maybe the strongest female lead ever, but the love she had for her sister and her determination to find her, made me like her. Donatella, or Tella as she is mostly called in this story, is a stronger and more perceptive character. She is also headstrong, sassy and cynical. She doesn’t take crap from anyone, and she stands up to those who try to manipulate her. Her experiences in this Caraval is also a little more interesting, buoyed by her tenacity and determination to free their mother. Just like Tella, I often struggled with what was real and what was part of Legend’s manipulations.She also handles herself well in keeping the two men who want her at arms length until she is done with her mission. Scarlet show up several times in this story, but her decisions and actions are not what I would have expected from her. At times she almost seemed oblivious to her sister’s dilemmas, and never really helped her on her journey.
There are two love interests, but I don’t think it is a true love triangle. Yes, both of the men have an interest in Tella, but at least one of them is just using her to get what he ultimately wants. The other one is doing this as well, to some degree, but I don’t think he means to harm her in the end. Dante is an interesting character that keeps you guessing and always seems to show up just when Tella has gotten herself into a bad situation. He also is quite charming when he wants to be, but also a little bit sinister. Jacks is also a marvelous character, both cunning and charming, but you can also tell that he is totally untrustworthy from the start.
There is a new element in this story, the mythology around the Fates, godlike beings that had magic and were at one time the rulers of this world. I really enjoyed learning about them and their how their stories fit into this world. I don’t want to give too much away, but I did find this part of the story fascinating and can’t wait to learn more about it.
The writing and the plot were both fantastic. Ms Garber’s writing style is lyrical and so full of rich descriptions that it really immerses you in Tella’s world. I loved all the descriptions of clothes and her surroundings and the food. It is really great when an author takes the time to help the reader to visualize such a rich and elegant world. The book is well paced and hard to put down as well. You really start to care about Tella and want to find out what happens to her. I was not surprised when Legend’s identity was finally revealed, I had been suspecting that person since the first book, but what Legend does at the end was a twist I wasn’t expecting.
A perfect fantasy world that will captivate your heart and mind. It will be a long wait for the next installment. We have a title, Finale, but no firm release date yet. This is a series that I will definitely cherish and reread many times.