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.
To say I loved Caraval (the first installment in this trilogy) would be a vast understatement, it’s the book that pulled me out of a reading slump and allowed me to enjoy Y/A or fantasy again. So in saying that, I was so excited to finally read Legendary this year! While I can understand the criticisms people had with the story or characters, personally I was swept away into this magical setting Garber created and enjoyed it so much. Stories like this bring me back to a simpler time when I was a teen and would literally fangirl and be SO excited for a romantic scene or some tension between the mains, I mean I’m still a sucker for that but the nostalgia is also pretty nice.
With that said, lets get into the actual review! I really liked that Legendary picks up right where the last book leaves us. It felt like no time had passed at all and for the characters it was just so, Legendary begins the morning after Caraval ends, the aftermath of a night filled with celebration, partying and bad decisions…for Tella at least. I really enjoyed reading through Tellas perspective in this story and learning more about her. In the first novel we see her strictly through the eyes of Scarlett so it was great to be able to hear from Tella herself.
As one magical Caraval ends, another is set to begin but this time in the vast and rich empire of Valenda. Legend and his troupe have been specially invited Empress Elantine, its enigmatic ruler. Can I just say that Valenda sounds like an amazing place to live? The descriptions in this section of the novel are truly stunning and Garber has done such a great job of bringing this setting to life and making it both appealing and sinister at the same time. It’s the perfect atmosphere for Caraval to take place.
“The air tasted like wonder. Like candied butterfly wings caught in sugared spiderwebs, and drunken peaches coated in luck.”
In contrast to the first novel in which Scarlett must win Caraval to save Tellas life, in this one there is much more at stake. Tella has to win Caraval in order to save the life of her mother, Paloma who went missing many years ago. As well as her very personal motivation for winning, there are repercussions which will change the very fate of the world, should she lose. The mythology or lore introduced here is so intriguing and rich, I honestly could not get enough. I don’t want to spoil anything about the plot here but just know it’s suspenseful, dramatic and just all round great.
“Her heart was still a little heavy, but she’d decided carrying it around would only maker her stronger.”
Another feature of this novel which I really loved was the exploration of Tella and Scarletts backstory as well as their mothers. I really liked the way the events of the present tied into their past and the story as a whole, it felt so well put together. You feel the genuine range of emotions that Tella goes through on this journey of trying to reconcile the mother she knew with the often conflicting information she seems to find at every turn. While we didn’t get to see much of the bond between the sisters in this book, it’s obvious how much they love each other and would do pretty much anything for one another. I feel like their storylines didn’t really fit together so well though in this book and I just felt like something was missing there. Perhaps this is something which will be made up for in the final book?
After reading and gleefully enjoying Scarlett and Julians sizzling tension in the first novel, I was super down for some more and Garber did not disappoint! Legendary has even more romance and angst and I honestly relished each and every moment. From the beguiling Dante – the literal definition of tall, dark and handsome to a mysterious and charming stranger who interweaves himself into the game and into Tellas arms, the romance was a satisfying element in the story and felt genuine. It was also interesting to see the way Tella approaches relationships and romance in comparison to Scarlett. The reason behind this was also so heartbreaking and tied into the overall story so well.
Overall, Legendary was definitely a great sequel to the brilliant Caraval and had all the things which made that book so great but also holds its own. In this book Garber expands on the magic and builds it all up. I feel like Legendary leaves us at the perfect place for what’s to come in the last installment of the trilogy, entitled Finale. I’m eager to read it and will definitely be posting a review of it whenever I’m able to!
★★★★ – 4 Star Rating
Until next time,
Have you read Legendary? or Caraval? If so, what did you think? Do you enjoy these kind of Y/A stories or is another genre more your thing?