After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to 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 may be kidding myself thinking I will get through all my September ARCs this month, but if there is one book I am glad I did pick up, it would be this one. An absolutely brilliant modern day Arthurian re-telling that is filled to the brim with adventure, magic and romance. Bree is still reeling from the death of her mother, she’s hoping that moving to University will help her start a fresh but on her first night there her whole life changes. Bree witnesses a magical attack by creatures that simply shouldn’t exist and soon finds out there is a chapter of the school that is kept well hidden, a secret society filled with people called ‘Legendborns,’ literal re-incarnations of Arthur and his knights called to rid the world of Demons. But that’s not all Bree learns, she also realises that these ‘Legendborns’ are linked to her mother and possibly responsible for her death. Bree will stop at nothing to find out the truth behind her mothers passing, even if that means putting herself in danger, especially when she realises that she has magic of her own, magic that could bring the society to its heels.
I honestly adored this book! It was so much fun to read and filled to the brim with some fantastically written characters. Bree was the perfect perspective to read from. Still grieving from the death of her mother she doesn’t quite know how to react when she sees a magical fight taking place, but one thing she does know is something isn’t quite right. Once she realises that this society might have had something to do with the death of her mother Bree doesn’t hesitate to come up with a plan to infiltrate the group and find out the truth. She is incredibly strong willed and resilient, even when her life is in danger she doesn’t stop asking the questions that need asking. She questions the society not just in her mothers death but also in how it treats others, especially those from ethnic minorities. I feel like the author dealt with these social issues brilliantly and Bree was the perfect representation of a society of people who have constantly been seen as lesser than others. I liked that she kept Bree acting like a typical teenager, freaking out when her crush sees her ass, constantly questioning whether he likes her or not. So many times we see these female characters aged up but it was nice to get an insight into the bumbling relationships that only teenagers can have
Whilst this book is wholly Bree’s story the author still manages to create a cast filled with characters who are effortlessly brought to life, each with their own personalities. The main two of these are Nick, the descendant of King Arthur himself and Sel, Nicks Merlin. Nick is pretty much the only person in the society that Bree trusts and I LOVED seeing their relationship develop throughout the book. Selwyn Kane is a Merlin, a person able to effect Ather without being ‘called.’ He distrusts Bree from the start, assuming she has been sent by the line of Morgaine to infiltrate the society and harm Nick . Sel and Bree have a rocky relationship throughout most of the book neither willing to trust the other. As well as Nick and Sel we get introductions to most of the Carolina chapter of ‘Legendborns’ (my favourite being William the resident healer) and Alice, Bree’s friend who came to the University with her. Though these characters might not get their own POV’s in the book they are all brilliantly brought to life and you don’t hesitate in bonding with each and every one.
I mentioned this is a re-telling of Arthurian Legend and whilst that is mainly true there are a few differences. ‘Legendborn’ are descendants of Arthur, they are trained from birth to fight demons and to accept their ‘calling’. In times of great need the Knights are able to call up their descendants, instilling them with a great power and their own abilities. They are able to see demons and fight them, though unlike Merlin’s they are unable to call Aether until they have been ‘called’ by their descendant. The author drip feeds us all this information throughout the book which made it so much easier for me to get to grips with the world and mythology she was building.
This book is filled to the brim with some top notch plot twists, the kind where you do a double take and can’t believe you hadn’t guessed it already. There is one particularly big one at the end that had me pretty much shouting WTF at my kindle. We do get hints throughout the book, but I think I was too enthralled by the overall storyline to truly pick up on them. This book hints at a possible love triangle in book two but please don’t be put off by it. I’m not the biggest love triangle fan but felt this was dealt with well and have every faith that the author will sort it out in the next book. Luckily the romance we do get is super swoon worthy and I adored reading the scenes that the two were in.
I can safely say that this will make my top books of the year! You know me and mythology, and this put such a fun twist on Arthurian legend that I was hooked from the first few pages. The author ends the book on a pretty big cliffhanger, but even without that I would eagerly pick up book two. There are a wealth of unanswered questions and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel.