[This review is based on the finished hardcover edition of the book, but I would still like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing an e-ARC in exchange for a review. These are my honest opinions.]
“The air tasted like wonder. Like candied butterfly wings caught in sugared spiderwebs, and drunken peaches coated in luck.”
Lovely writing! More fancy dresses, higher stakes, razor-tipped gloves, magic shops, fortune tellers, magic cards, tunnels, and secrets! This book was a boatload of fun!
The Pacing, World-Building, & Plot
I found it quite easy to jump back into the world of Caraval. There is some summary in the first few chapters of Legendary to refresh the reader’s memory of the first book, but the story takes off quickly with a twist right near the beginning. We get to see more of the Meridian Empire and Empress Elantine, which helps flesh out the world more than the first book. The mythology about the Fates also adds another dimension to the world-building. I loved it!
There wasn’t a whole lot of “action,” but the romance, plot twists, and difficult choices kept me interested. And there are some huge decisions Tella has to make. I love it when characters are forced to choose between two difficult paths. Fate versus choosing your own future is a large theme in Legendary that, in some ways, makes this book more complicated than Caraval. The plot feels much more intricate, and the writing is somewhat flowery, but not distractingly flowery this time. But as in Caraval, the multi-format (letters, clues, etc.) help move the pace along and encourage the reader to join in the mystery and magic to help solve the “game.” Garber really put a lot of imagination and creativity into this book.
Tella & the Romance
I have to say, sometimes Tella seems a little full-of-herself, thinking that all the guys must desire her because she’s so beautiful and such. But I suppose this is just part of her personality, and this character trait does seem to be balanced out by her courageous determination and perseverance. As a character, Tella does show a great deal of growth. She moves from not wanting love to truly longing for it. Throughout her quest to find her mother, she really struggles with her heart – literally and metaphorically. Sinister Death tugs at Tella’s heart, a side effect from what happened at the end of the first Caraval.
“Death visited Tella while she slept. The tips of his claws stroked the back of her neck, while his shadow followed her into pristine dreams, poisoning all the colors until everything tasted of dust and withered to ash.”
On a somewhat happier note, the romance in this book is full of mystery and magic! Tella’s suitors are two very different people, but I found myself rooting for Dante. The scenes between him and Tella are filled with longing looks and tender touches. And of course he has to rescue her after a terrible thing happens. I hope their romance will have a chance at a proper ending in the third book. Can’t wait!
Near the end of the book, I did notice that Jacks’s danger factor seems to diminish a great deal, and the ending is not exactly the big showdown I was expecting. But perhaps there will be more showdowns in the third book. Tella’s encounter with the Undead Queen and Her Handmaidens is seriously creepy. I hope we’ll get more interactions with the Fates in the conclusion.
In addition, I was still left wondering about some things. Like who exactly was responsible for cursing Tella’s mother? That answer was not actually provided. And where exactly did her mother go after she left Tella all those years ago? I’m hoping a real interaction between Paloma and her daughters in the next book will supply some of those answers.
The number of typos in the hardcover copy was surprisingly noticeable, but I won’t subtract from my rating. Overall, this is definitely a spine that shines, and I can’t wait for Finale!