Legendary (2018) – Stephanie Garber

Title: Legendary
Author: Stephanie Garber
Date published: 2018
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton/MacMillan
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Okay so first and foremost this Young Adult fantasy novel is the second book in a trilogy. The first book Caraval I read over a year ago, and did not in fact write a review for it. If I am not mistaken though I am pretty sure I gave it 4 stars. The premise behind Caraval is that every year a mysterious man called Legend organizes a magical performance on an island where all those that are invited are meant to participate in a game. This game lasts 5 days and the winner is meant to find something hidden on the island by figuring out a series of clues left among the magical buildings and the rather strange people that work for Legend. The important thing to remember about Caraval is that it is ONLY a game. The players in this game are Scarlett and Donatella (Tella) Dragna, the daughters of a very powerful and evil man who has forced Scarlett into a marriage she does not want. The daughters are also not allowed to attend Caraval despite having received a long-anticipated invitation from Legend himself. The girls eventually find their way regardless and become involved in a fascinating game of smoke, mirrors and everything that can possibly awaken the senses. Caraval, the novel is beautifully written, and in the point of view (POV) of Scarlett. Its only downfall is its insistence that supposedly younger readers require less plot. Scarlett and the lesser known Tella were not rounded enough as characters for my liking, and I kept wanting just a little bit more from Stephanie Garber’s mind-blowing creation.

In Legendary, the point of view is reversed and this time the story is told from Tella’s perspective. Scarlett all but disappears into the periphery, and at times I have to remind myself which sister is actually speaking. This is simply because I find both sisters rather interchangeable, even though Tella is described as the more rebellious one.

Legend has announced another game of Caraval not long after the previous one, something that has never happened before in the history of the game. The reasoning behind this is because a certain Empress Elantine of Valenda (one of the ruling nations) is celebrating her birthday and requested that Legend and his game come to perform on her island. Even though this surprises a lot of people it does nothing to deter competitors flocking to the island of Valenda to participate in another game.


Tella’s involvement in the game begins by going back to the sisters’ past, and the circumstances of their mother’s mysterious disappearance many years ago, and the possible involvement of the Fates and a rather strange deck of cards. Not unlike Scarlett’s time at Caraval, Tella must also deal with the added menace of characters and players that she simply cannot trust, as well as her continuing affection for one of Legend’s actors, the enigmatic and pompous Dante.

As the game only takes place at night the essence of a seedy underbelly is what Garber does best and it is difficult not to wish that a game like Caraval didn’t exist. The characters and their surroundings are pure magic, and you are constantly second-guessing everyone, and I mean everyone. Is Caraval really just a game? I’m actually still not sure, but it’s still one hell of a fantastical ride. Despite a few misgivings on my part I look forward to the final book in the series aptly entitled Finale.

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