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Add ‘The Legendborn Cycle’ to your to-be-read list

Graphic by Sarah Irwin

Suspense, romance, action and adventure were all elements of Tracy Deonn’s debut novel “Legendborn.” Released in September 2020, the book quickly gained popularity and made the bestseller list. Deonn released the sequel “Bloodmarked” in November 2022, which proved equally enthralling.

The first novel follows sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews as she navigates life after her mother’s tragic passing. She and her father agree that she should attend college early and Bree decides to enroll at her mother’s alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill. What begins as an attempt at feeling closer to her mother soon becomes hectic when Bree witnesses students fighting magical creatures at a party on campus.

After further investigation, Bree concludes that magic may have played a role in her mother’s death. After this realization, she manages to infiltrate a secret society and uncovers a variety of secrets about herself, her mother and her ancestors.

“Bloodmarked” picks up where “Legendborn” left off, and it starts with another exciting adventure. Bree is able to further connect to her roots and find out even more about the women who paved the way for her.

One of my favorite scenes is when Bree speaks to her ancestors. This is a big moment for her character because of what it represents considering the limited information available to African Americans regarding ancestry. Bree receives advice and guidance during times of hopelessness, which is powerful to read. The sequel was excellent, brilliantly expanding on concepts from the first novel and answering many burning questions, while also leaving more to be revealed in the third installment.

The main character is the key to keeping any book interesting and Bree is the definition of a main character since she is brave, confident and relatable. Deonn does a fantastic job highlighting her strengths throughout the books while showing readers that even though she is strong, she is still a teenage girl who has doubts and fears and is continuously developing as a person.

Additionally, the other characters are beautifully written. Deonn makes it impossible not to fall in love with each protagonist. One of my favorites is Bree’s best friend, Alice Chen, who plays a larger role in “Bloodmarked.” Alice is funny and sardonic and I think she balances out Bree in a way that aids the progression of the story.

One of Bree’s closest friends is Selwyn Kane, who undergoes intense development throughout the novels. Initially, he was extremely unlikeable but the expansion of his background and personal growth makes it impossible to dislike him in the end.

Bree’s love interest is Nicholas Davis and he has quite the journey in “Bloodmarked.” He faces several challenges that force him to develop in ways that he never had before.

The dynamic between the characters is also noteworthy. Their conflicting personalities allow for moments of both drama and humor. Deonn’s skills at writing a good antagonist elevate the storyline in more ways than one. The villains in the novel are absolutely despicable and it makes the readers root for Bree and her friends that much more.

Both books tackle racism, discrimination, self-discovery and grief and there are a number of diverse characters. Each action-packed chapter leaves readers wanting more and hastily flipping the pages to find out what happens next. “Bloodmarked” ends on a crazy cliffhanger, and now I won’t rest until I get my hands on the third one.

Deonn has not yet announced the release date for the third book, but there’s speculation that it will be released by next year. If you want a series that stays with you even after you’re done reading, The Legendborn Cycle is an excellent choice.

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