Written by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron books, May 29, 2018
My star rating: 5 stars
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. Find it on Goodreads
This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. I read Caraval the week it came out and loved it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was still really wonderful. I even went to my first ever book event and met Stephanie Garber in Michigan on her tour! Hearing her thoughts and reasons behind the book only enhanced my feelings about it. I have to say though, that I was a little nervous about this book being from Tella’s perspective. Thankfully, my fears didn’t come into play!
My reasons for worrying that this book was following Tella, was that I wasn’t too impressed with the main characters as a whole in Caraval. Scarlett was a little weak at times and her core values seemed to fly right out the window as soon as she met Julian and started to play the game. Worst were my feelings for Tella. I didn’t like her at all. She seemed like the flighty, conceded, selfish brat. In her defence, we didn’t get the chance to see her much. But in Legendary, I almost immediately warmed up to her. We see quickly that she’s bold, brave, fearless, smart, and goes after what she feels like she deserves. Her actions may seem that she’s doing things outright selfishly and without thinking – but now that we’re getting her perspective, we realize that she actually does consider and calculate. We also see that she’s not as careless with her relationships with men. She does things in a way to seem as though she doesn’t care, but she’s really trying to protect her own heart. I’m happy to say that Tella was an improvement!
There are two things that this book revolved around – the game of Caraval, and the Fates. These two themes came hand in hand and intertwined with each other. The addition of the Fates in this book lent an even deeper magical depth to the game. The Fates were said to be a magical group of people that Legend trapped and drew his power from. There were 16 in total (8 Greater and 8 Lesser) with powers ranging from deadly kisses, being forever young, poisoners, and many other deadly strange things. Learning of the fates, their powers, their origins, and their demise, layered this story and made the world seem much larger than it did in Caraval. It also made this book feel more mythological and historic. Just because there were so many of them, I got a little confused, but as the story progresses, we get little details about them – and I loved every second of it!
Along the same lines with my comment about depth, I feel like the authors writing really improved. We got a lot more world building and more complete descriptions of the setting. I noticed that in Caraval she used food and gemstones to describe things. But this time around her writing was described in a very beautiful and unique way. For example, when reading the destination where the newest game was going to be held, this was the first description:
The air tasted like wonder. Like candied butterfly wings caught in sugared spiderwebs, and drunken peaches coated in luck.
Ok, she still uses some food descriptions, but it’s calmed down a bit. I really loved how magical her writing is!
I also enjoy that she was able to, once again, make me second guess my instincts!! I never knew who to trust or if the things happening were real. We as the reader are on this adventure for our second game of Caraval with the characters. The game was played once before so now we and the characters know that it may seem real but it’s just a game. Or is it? Things that happen are just so realistic and convincing! In the span of one chapter I found myself doubting my instincts numerous times! One page I would think it was a game and that the person was acting. A few paragraphs later I was convinced that the person was evil and everything was falling apart because the character wasn’t taking it seriously. It’s countless pages of mind games – and I loved every minute of it!
Along with the fantastic mythology and atmosphere, we also get a little more background on Tella and Scarlett’s mother. It was hinted that there was more to the story of her disappearance in Caraval, but it took a more significant role in Legendary.
And Dante…… my dark Dante……..
Comparing this to Caraval, I actually enjoyed this book more! If you were looking forward to this sequel, I have a strong feeling you won’t be disappointed!!
Until next time, happy reading!