Publisher: Flatiron Books
Anticipated publication date: May 29, 2018
Average Goodreads rating: 4.53
My rating: 4.5
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
If any of your read my review of the first book in this series, Caraval, you may recall that I had very few kind things to say about it. The story could have been interesting but mostly it just bored me to tears and gave me characters that lacked any interesting personality traits. I despised the narrator, Scarlett, and nearly every other thing in that book.
So, why did I read Legendary, you ask? It showed up randomly in my Netgalley one day as an approved book even though I have absolutely no memory of requesting it. I did not want my over 80% review average to dip so I opened it up. I figured at least it would give me a book to rag on and those reviews are always fun. What I didn’t expect was to truly and thoroughly enjoy it.
What I Liked
- The narrator in this book is, thank goodness, Scarlett’s sister Donatella. Tella is fiery and passionate. Once she makes a decision she goes for it, all out, and doesn’t let anything stand in her way. She is bold, brash, and filled with extreme emotion. Despite that, she does her best not to let that emotion distract her from her goal, which is saving her mother. Of course she has many hardships to overcome to achieve that goal but her passion (for the most part) remains steadfast. That takes a strength of character most do not possess.
- Instead of the competition taking place on Caraval’s island, it is located in the capital city and being hosted by the empress herself. I’m not sure if Garber’s writing improved from the previous book or if this setting was just more interesting but I could easily picture every street, every building, and every ruin that Tella came across. It was like a vivid painting in my head and I adored every moment.
- Now, I am a sucker for an appropriately done romance and Legendary nailed that one right on the head. It didn’t overpower the story but instead complimented it. In fact, I don’t think Tella would have reached the conclusion she did without that romantic aspect. It was tastefully done, appropriate, and still steamy enough to keep my eyes flying across the page.
What I Didn’t Like
- The so called “bad guy” in this story didn’t tickle my funny bone. I could understand what Garber was going for with him but he just didn’t feel genuine. Without giving anything important away I’ll just say that a few things just conveniently happen with the character that felt forced, like they were just put in to further the plot and not because they suited the established character. Luckily, and oddly, he really didn’t show up a lot so it wasn’t too much of a nuisance.
- I have the feeling that I will be in the minority on this but I didn’t really like the book’s conclusion. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. Honestly, it did give a very nice set up for the next book but at the same time it just felt…off. The conclusion also included a great deal of Scarlett so that may have had something to do with it. I truly and to the bottom of my soul dislike that character.
- Just as kind of a side note, there are flying carriages. I suppose they were meant to further convey the fact the “Caraval is magical” concept but I think that their inclusion was too child like and out of place. Instead of adding to the magical aspects of the story, it detracted.
In the grand scheme of things I loved this book. Tella was fascinating and held my attention, her love interest was perfectly suited to the story line, the setting was absolutely magical, and there were enough surprises to keep me glued to the page. Even my negatives didn’t have a huge impact on the story, they were more background noise than major plot points. When I picked up Legendary I was fully prepared not to like it, even expected not to. Instead I was pleasantly surprised by a magical tale with entertaining characters and a story that kept me reading even when there were other things I should have been doing. I completely recommend this book for YA fantasy fans.