First of all, let me thank Netgalley and Flatiron Books for the chance to read and review this book: Legendary, pre-release. As always, these thoughts are my own. This review is spoiler-free and no main plot points are revealed.
I give this story 3.25 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.
Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval.
If you’ll recall, I read and reviewed Caraval last year with my brownie. I did the ‘Sins of Caraval’, which were many. You can find that review here.
I had a lot to say, and I did quite a bit of ranting. Since this is not a ‘Sins/ Wins Review’, I won’t belabor that point.
I finally realized what bothers me so much about the style in which both of these books are written. While the dialogue is usually spot-on, the rest is kind of . . . really really descriptive narrative. So descriptive that honestly, I kept getting lost in the extra prepositional phrases and adjectives. It doesn’t make it more magical, it muddies the waters, and that makes me sad.
Also, there are some things thrown in that are in an attempt to make you believe that this story is set somewhere wildly different from Earth. Like the description ‘a ribbon the color of harbor light’. I have no idea what that means, and there’s a lot of confusing descriptions like that too.
Furthermore, Tessa, while much more interesting than her sister, was pretty repetitive with her thought processes, to the point I was annoyed that she felt I couldn’t understand her reasoning. I’m intelligent, let’s move on.
So the Caraval, the party-mystery-grandiose-game that is Caraval is kind of like a giant mystery-fantasy-solving-party. During both legendary and Caraval, the main characters make logic leaps while solving the mysteries that the reader can’t make. ALL of the fun of a mystery is being surprised at the ending and working the whole story to figure it out. Caraval doesn’t allow that because not enough clues are given that the reader can use.
While Scarlett’s motivations in Caraval seemed a little weak to me, Tessa’s here in Legendary were solid. I understood why she was doing what she was doing that that made me happy.
Worldbuilding and Magic
The magic still has no rules, which is still disappointing, and there wasn’t enough worldbuilding in Caraval to allow for the leaps we made in Legendary. I can’t say more without giving the plot away.
I personally wasn’t convinced that I’d like this story until the very end. Spoilers: I DID like it. The ending helped everything come into focus and I was surprised at the ferocity of my emotions about the conclusion.
My vote: Legendary was better than Caraval, so even if Caraval wasn’t for you, you might consider giving Legendary a chance. And if you loved Caraval, go buy this book immediately.