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 my review of Caraval didn’t make this clear, I am OBSESSED with this series and this world. And it might just be me but like, this is absolutely a series tailor made for me. I’m sure Stephanie Garber didn’t write this with me in mind but it’s true. One of my fears when I started this series was that the series would drag out Scarlett’s story the whole time and that we’d be experiencing the same thing over and over but once I finished the first book I saw how untrue that was. It’s so easy to fall into second book syndrome with a series like this, especially when I thought so highly of the first book and was still kind of living off that high, but Garber managed to avoid that, which pleased me beyond end. I’m still not sure if I like this book more than the first book, or vice versa, but all I know is that I truly love this series and I am so happy with what Garber is doing.
Because this is the second book in a series, I don’t think I can properly review this without revealing any spoilers so a SPOILER ALERT is now in effect.
- The reason why Legendary managed to avoid falling into second book syndrome is, in my opinion, because Garber managed to flip the entire story and plot around and therefore making it truly differ from its predecessor. In Caraval, we were constantly told to remember that it’s only a game and that what we, and by “we” I mean Scarlett, are seeing is more illusion than it is reality. But in this new round of Caraval, we were instead told that we needed to see the game as being real. Because it was very much real. I think it would’ve been so easy for Garber to repeat the same plot and same dynamic as the first one and while she did keep the same narrative structure of Caraval, this story was like the complete opposite of Scarlett’s initial story. I liked how the plot yet again revolved around the Dragna family and it shows how connected they are to Legend himself, but I think it was interesting to see how much Legend actually had at stake in this new game. He seemed to be more than just the invisible puppet master that he was before and the thing he was after created a lot more intensity and drama for Tella and for the game itself. The first game was about Scarlett and Tella’s lives but this game seemed to be more about the rest of the world’s lives and what could potentially happen with the thing Legend was after. It shows how on the surface it seems like the story can seem to be the same but in reality, it’s not at all and it makes me really believe in Garber’s talents as a writer. I mentioned when I was reviewing Caraval that Garber knew the ins and outs of her story and figured everything out in a way that she can stay ahead of us but continually understand her story and I think the fact that she was able to write Legendary the way that she did proved that to me again. Again, it was very easy for Garber to write the same story and plot that she did with the first book, and structurally she did, but she took what we knew and what we expected and twisted it upside down, all while throwing new twists and elements throughout. She truly is a clever writer that I want to read for as long as I can.
- Tella’s character was a pleasant surprise for me. After getting to know her, or what I thought she was, in Caraval, I wasn’t sure what an entire book with her as the protagonist would entail but I feel like she had the same magic that Scarlett had, but a bit more of spunk and a backbone. Tella is loving and trusting of her sister, but it doesn’t go beyond that. We see how the departure of their mother affected Tella and how everything she’s doing, from initially getting involved in Legend’s games to playing again, all comes back to her trying to find their mother and getting answers, I suppose. But because Tella doesn’t trust people, and definitely doesn’t trust boys with her heart, it’s how we can separate her from Scarlett and, at least for me, to relate to her better. I liked seeing how much Tella guarded her heart and while she has no issues fooling around with boys and kissing whoever she’d like, she can’t let her heart get involved. I respect that so much. But I think because Tella keeps her heart so guarded she’s able to see things more clearly than Scarlett and make smarter decisions. Overall, I found Tella to be incredibly smart and clever, but had the right amount of cunning and ambition to her personality that made me enjoy her and find her to be quite entertaining. Like when one of Legend’s players wanted to made a deal with her Tella kind of threw their offer back in their face, something Scarlett never really did. I love both sisters dearly, but I think I love Tella a tiny bit more and I’m so glad to be wrong about her.
- Another thing I found to be better this time around was the romance aspect of it all. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Scarlett and Julian and found them to be completely adorable, but Tella and Dante spoke to my soul. They had that bit of opposites attract, a slight enemies to lovers, and Tella’s overall reluctance to feel something for Dante just got my heart going. Now, Dante himself was absolutely my type and therefore I’m more partial to him than Julian, but I just found his care for Tella to be amazing. I liked how Tella made Dante feel like he could be a better person, that he could be more, and I liked how Dante made Tella believe that it was possible for her to open her heart and give it to someone. They were different enough that they were able to compliment one another, and similar enough that they found common ground. They created a trust and a familiarity that I feel Scarlett and Julian didn’t have and it was just wonderful. And come on, you know a ship is worth it when the girl gets butterflies seeing the boy and proceeds to get mad at herself for it. I love it.
- I really liked how this book kind of expanded the Caraval universe in a way and went deeper into the magic not only of Caraval itself but of the Fates and the relationship between them and Legend. It felt like Garber created a bit of her own mythology with these Fates but was still inspired by like a deck of cards and tarot cards, in a way, and it made the story feel more magical, in my opinion. I feel it’s hard to explain without actually reading the book but it made more sense of this world that Tella and Scarlett live it and helped me see what magic actually means here.
- There were times where it felt like Garber was gonna make a love triangle happen between Tella, Dante, and Jacks but I’m confident it’s not gonna come to that. However, the issue is that Tella is apparently Jacks true love, meaning that she is the Prince of Hearts’s biggest weakness. It was a twist I saw coming and it made sense, but I’m not sure how it’s going to make sense overall. I feel like it’s possible to be someone’s true love but not actually love them back, especially how the legend says that it’s the Fate’s true love who will be his weakness, but says nothing of his true love. So Tella can be this thing for him but she can also feel nothing towards him. And I think that’s the smart thing to do because it will give Tella all the power here. I’m hoping the triangle doesn’t become more exploited but you really never know.
- So we finally found out the true identity of Legend and I have mixed feelings about it. I’m not going to reveal it (I’m not that mean) but on one hand I found it to be yet another great twist from Garber yet on the other hand, it made me sad. I liked how when you get closer to seeing who Legend is, you’re almost chanting “oh please don’t be this person, please don’t be this person” and that’s who it ended up to be. I personally like twists like that due to the emotions it evokes. It was a good twist for reasons and a bad twist for reasons. I’m hoping that Garber knows what she’s doing with making this person Legend, but Legend’s true master plan turned out to be completely bonkers so who knows what’s happening anymore? Not me!
THE BOTTOM LINE
- This book proved to me how great of a storyteller Stephanie Garber can be. She understands her world so much and is able to not only give you a familiarity you’re looking for but continue to surprise you and maintain your interest throughout. Not once do you think you’re reading the same story all over again, though she easily could’ve done that, and still throws all the twists and turns she can at you. I cannot wait to see what Finale promises me, but I can only guess it’ll be grand.
BONUS: how the book made me feel in a GIF
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Legendary (Caraval #1)
Author: Stephanie Garber
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Pages: 451 (Hardcover)
Until next time,
What did you think of the book? Leave a comment below!