Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Having just finished this magical tale I am in dire need of the third one. Why is March so far away 😭 I will console myself the only way I know- fangirl until March, flail when the third one is released and finally comfort myself with the end of the series three years after I’ve brought the book. So, on with the fangirling!

Legendary follows Tella, Scarlett’s formerly missing sister, as she tries to win Caravel to save her mother. But she soon discovers the cost of winning is a price she not willing to pay as the impossible choice she’s predicted to have comes to light: loose her mother or doom the empire she was just starting to fall in love with. Legendary will take the reader through twists and turns at every corner, no fact will be trustworthy and no plot point will be expected.

Stephanie Garber can be a master storyteller when she wants to be. Some of the descriptions or feelings read like poetry: described in such intricate and unusual detail that they add magic to this already very magical novel. But others feel rushed. Whole scenes pass by with no description at all, it can feel clogged up and hastily written, with clunky descriptions tacked on at the end. However for most of the exciting parts of the novel it reads beautifully and it was only really the beginning on the boat when I struggled with the clunky descriptions, I’d still say as a whole this book is very pretty to read and the descriptions are sparse enough to not draw out the text unnecessarily yet frequent enough to capture the reader in the world the author has created.

“The world had tasted like magic and starshine, like granted wishes and dreams come true, yet breath it all, death still coated Tella’s tongue”

Tella is the spunky heroin we are used to in YA but she has few abilities compared to many YA heroins. She shows you don’t need to be skilled with a weapon, good at fighting or have magical powers to be a strong female lead. She likes dresses and weaving flowers into her hair and boys yet clearly shows she can hold her own and make her way in the world, never really relying on anyone. These traits made her more relatable to me than many heroins and make her a very good narrator.

Furthermore, Tella’s character growth throughout the novel is an attestment to Garber’s writing. Like it did with her sister, Caravel tests Tella in ways she never expected and pushes her beyond her comfort in a way that only gives strength to her already firey character. Following her adventures the reader can see Tella learn more about herself as well as her surroundings and the mysterious men who surround her, learning to trust and love in a game designed to trap her.

His chuckle was dark. ‘I’m definitely not the hero.’

‘I already knew that,’ Tella said. ‘It’s my story, so clearly I’m the hero.

This novel is shrouded in mystery. I spent half the book itching to skip ahead and find out what’s going on- you’ll be relieved to know I didn’t. (Ok, maybe once but let’s not dwell on that). If you enjoyed the mystery of Caravel then it’s sequel will definitely take you for a ride, although, unlike Caravel, there’s no continued insistence that it’s a game. The plot has twists and turns a plenty and Tella’s exciting and seemingly impossible to solve predicaments will immediately draw any reader in.

One small disappointment in this otherwise excellent novel would be how little Scarlett’s character appears. As the main character of Caravel I was hoping to see her adaption to her new circumstances more. She clearly continues to develop throughout this novel: we occasionally see how she is growing from being her nervous, over protective self to be more free and accepting of new possibilities. But the reader can’t really track this progress or the events that lead up to it since her presence is dotted sparsely throughout the novel.

It would also have been nice to see the sisters’ relationship more, which again undergoes dramatic changes: Scarlett learning to trust her sister’s decision and Tella learning to really value that trust. A lot happens to their small family in this novel, given how much of it revolves around their mother, but Scarlett is so reserved about the situation that she doesn’t want to talk about it with Tella.

“She tried to smile then. She was finally the hero. All it had cost her was everything.”

However, these small hiccups aren’t really a problem and I did feel we had a lot of Tella’s opinions and schemes to progress the plot and provide background on their family and ever changing relationship.

Overall, this novel was excellent. Particularly once the game has begun, it’s captivating, enchanting and beautifully written. With a quick moving plot and untrustworthy narrative it makes for a great read.