5 star, YA

Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Caraval #2

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.

I just absolutely love this series. Andge is completely with me here on the 5 Drink Me Potions rating, and there is just no denying it. Something about the magic of Caraval just sucks you right back in for round two, this time with Scarlett’s sister, Donatella.

Mysterious, dark, intriguing and beguiling are all terms I would use to describe the magic of Caraval and just being in this world that Garber has created. Even though this second adventure follows more of the story behind Legend and his magic, we still get to experience all the magic and mystique of the Caraval game itself.

Legendary, as its name might suggest, delves further into the backstory of Legend, through the eyes of Donatella, Scarlett’s sister. Having been the prize in the previous game, she had not participated in the game itself last time. This time, another Caraval is put on for Elantine the Empress’s 75th birthday, and yet another grand prize is awaiting the winner. Donatella, of course, has all her own motives as well for wanting to participate this year, and in this journey, the stakes get higher and higher as she uncovers more and more of the truth.

The characters are once again interesting and complex, none of them claiming to be more than they are, though certainly acting their part for Caraval. Many characters (actors from Caraval) come back from the first book and are further developed in book two. Characters are consistent and intriguing, always making you wonder what their intentions are, and whether their facade is just for the game or for real. It is rare to read a book where all the characters are so interesting and unique, and all simultaneously playing their part yet having their own agenda. This really helps move the plot along as well as keep things engaging.

While both Andge and I agree that a bit of the magic of Caraval is lost (compared to experiencing it the first time with Scarlett), I think that this second time actually had good contrast to the first game, and therefore had its own intrigue as well. The first Caraval claims to be just a game, and that everything is just for show, and the theme of the book really ran on that. In Legendary, Caraval claims to be “very real”, and this juxtaposition from the first book really sets a whole new theme to the game. Is it actually real? Or just another one of Legend’s tricks?

Another thing worth mentioning about why I personally love this series so much is the world-building. The elements of magic and destiny are just all so well built-up and fascinating. So fascinating that I immediately looked up Deck of Destiny, wondering if it was a real item (like tarot). To my surprise, it is something completely made up by the author, and wow, that really says something about how much I believed in it, doesn’t it? I wanted to own a deck for myself just because I thought it was that cool, and I think that’s a sign of great writing for sure.

A lot of great continuity from the first book was also there. It has always been a pet peeve of mine when sequels are more of a spin-off than anything else, or just an afterthought. Legendary was absolutely not like that though, which was brilliant. I don’t want to give too much away about the book, because I really want to keep the mystery and excitement for you as readers to discover for yourself should you choose to read this series. But honestly, if you haven’t, and any of this has sounded interesting at all to you, I definitely suggest you pick it up. You won’t be disappointed!

If you haven’t checked out Andge’s review on Caraval (book 1), please check it out here!

Overall Recommendations

Legendary is the sequel to Caraval, and follows Scarlett’s sister, Donatella, as she navigates her turn through Caraval, at the magical capital city of Valenda. Full of intrigue, mystery, and romance, this fantastical world of Caraval really has it all. The characters are super interesting and you can’t help but also fall into the game yourself. If you haven’t checked out the first book in the series, I highly recommend it. And if you have read the first one, I absolutely, absolutely, recommend the sequel as well.


14 thoughts on “Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber”

  1. oh my gosh! i love this series so much! i totally agree with you: the world is so rich and well thought out. caraval definitely has more of that unpredictable, magical excitement feeling, but i loved the new magic introduced in legendary. jacks is also my favorite characters so there’s that hehe. great review!💜

    Liked by 1 person

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