New Book Nook: Bloodmarked Raises the Legendborn Cycle Stakes to Astronomical Highs

This review was originally posted on The Geeky Waffle, It has been reposted here with permission.

As an avid reader, there are many books that have sunk their hooks into me and refused to let go. Rare, however, is the book that makes me exclaim in shock and surprise at several intervals, or which makes me throw down my e-reader (gently, of course) because I need a minute to compose myself. Such was the case with Legendborn, and Tracy Deonn has done it yet again — and even more so — with its sequel Bloodmarked. 

Picking up where the first book left off, with the Order in disarray, and our heroine Brianna Matthews learning that it is she, and not born-and-raised Legendborn scion Nick Davis, who is the descendant of King Arthur, it seemed initially like Bloodmarked is going to follow the pattern of many sophmore fantasy outings. The first book establishes the world, and the  second is the chase. The adventure story where the cast of the first go searching for their missing friend to try and reset the status quo. 

Not so. 

Yes, there is an aspect of chase as Bri, Selwyn, William and Alice go on the run to find where Nick disappeared to, but there is so much more at stake — especially for Bri and Sel — than simply the whereabouts of their friend. It’s hard to really get into it without giving away so many of the twists and turns that kept me yelling and on the edge of my seat from start to finish. 

As with Legendborn, Deonn does a wonderful job of mixing the elements and story beats typical to YA fantasy with the very real things Bri experiences as a teenaged Black girl living in the South. It’s refreshing to have a main character who is compassionate, kind, and loving, but who also doesn’t shy away from her very justified anger. Woven into the adventure side of things is also Bri’s journey for self-discovery, and discovery of her family and the source of her powers. Thankfully, this journey is not prematurely stunted for the sake of drama. Rather, Deonn allows Bri to learn and to grow significantly as the book goes on, raising the stakes for where she will be and what she will be able to do when the third book comes around.

On a lighter note, if you’re like me and came out of Legendborn a big fan of Selwyn Kane — and all of his dark, grumpy, magical broodiness — then is this ever the book for you. So much Sel. So much angst. There’s truly very little I love in fiction more than a dark-haired broody boy, especially when he has a heart of gold. Thank you for this gift, Tracy Deonn.

I am doing no kind of justice to how excellent this book is. To give too much away would be to deprive readers of the experience. The stakes by the end have absolutely skyrocketed, and the world of the story feels bigger, and more terrifying than ever, in the best kind of way. Suffice to say if you enjoyed the first one at all, you are in for a treat with this. Much like a roller coaster, it is a slow, tension-filled rise that gives way to the most thrilling of drops, turns and loops. The kind that will have you ready to go again the minute it’s over. 

Bloodmarked is out November 8, 2022. Special thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for the advance copy for review purposes.

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