I feel like I just accidentally got a PhD in Arthurian legend? And maybe learned some Welsh? Legendborn was already on my radar–but then a girl I went to college with (hi Lillie!) and the Coretta Scott King Award committee were like “you have to read this” so I dove right in!
Bree Matthews is set to attend her dream pre-college program: one of those situations where you get to “go” to college during your last two years of high school, but her time at Carolina (UNC) is marred by her mother’s recent death, the fact that she and her mother had fought the day she died, and the constant questions and darkness that Bree feels. It takes all of one day at Carolina for Bree to find herself in trouble, in the back of a police car, and assigned an older mentor to keep her in line. But that mentor, Nick, is not what he seems…and neither is Carolina, because underneath the veneer of a university is a secret society, King Arthur style, full of people descended from the Knights of the Round Table, wielding aether and fighting demons, and this year, their competition for scions and lieges and all that jazz is even more intense: because Camlamm seems to be coming, there are demons all over the place, and after Bree sees TWO of them in a short period of time–when she as a onceborn is not supposed to see ANY of them–she fingers herself involved in this society, and with Nick, in ways she didn’t even know were possible.
I was drawn to this book for being set on a college campus with a King Arthur vibe, but this was WAYYY more King Arthur than college. The college stuff just kind of fell to the wayside…and I feel like I got a HUGE education in King Arthur, and in Welsh, and in scions lines. I do like the twist at the end of this one—and I like how they involved all the knights of the round table and not just Arthur and Lancelot. The discussion between root vs aether kind of went over my head ,but there is an interesting inkling of discussion about the way different races/ethnicities approach magic and their relationship to nature. There’s also a strong storyline about the ramifications of slavery on this modern moment, which I thought was very well done in the plot. I do look forward to reading more in this story, but I think Deonn needs to decide if it’s strictly King Arthur or also about balancing the college aspect, because I kept being like “why is this girl not going to class or eating”
You can buy Legendborn wherever books are sold.