An Instant New York Times Bestseller!
Winner of the Coretta Scott King - John Steptoe for New Talent Author Award
Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy reinvents the King Arthur legend and “braids together Southern folk traditions and Black Girl Magic into a searing modern tale of grief, power, and self-discovery” (Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles).
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.
A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.
The African diaspora blends with Arthurian legend in Deonn's dynamic YA fantasy debut, reminiscent of City of Bones. On her first two nights at the University of North Carolina's Early College program, 16-year-old Bree Matthews, who is Black, witnesses otherworldly demonic attacks that most other students can't see. When a strong mage's attempt to alter Bree's memories fails, she recovers the recent events alongside a brief recollection from the night of her mother's death, three months prior a fragment that she realizes another mesmerist sought to hide. Convinced the campus incidents have something to do with her mom's sudden end, Bree persuades peer mentor Nick to help her infiltrate the magical Order of the Round Table, the historically white, deeply racist secret society that he was born into, and which is committed to hunting the demons. Bree struggles as the Order's sole Black member and page, but outside Black female practitioners offer help via a different means of magic, and Bree must decide which path will give her the most answers about both her mother and herself. Though hazy exposition initially slows the narrative, Deonn adeptly employs the haunting history of the American South ("the low buzzing sound of exclusion") to explore themes of ancestral pain, grief, and love, balancing them with stimulating worldbuilding and multiple thrilling plot twists. Ages 14 up.
Best YA I’ve read in a long time
Absolutely incredible, I’ll definitely be rereading. I wish I had this growing up.
Everyone should read!!