A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
While primarily a fantasy meant to entertain, Bloodmarked does teach readers about various Arthurian legends and the names/personalities of members of the original Round Table, as well as information about root magic, the oral, cultural, and spiritual traditions of the descendants of American slavery, and more.
The story promotes teamwork, acceptance, and empathy. It acknowledges the importance of knowing your history and of recognizing privilege and challenging historical and institutional racism.
Positive Role Models
Bree is intelligent, curious, and brave. She's willing to risk her safety to find out more about the mystery surrounding her mother's accident. Alice is an unconditional friend who sticks by Bree during unthinkable circumstances. Nick is protective, smart, and charming. He is willing to really listen to Bree. Representation includes a racially diverse cast of characters (mostly Black, White, and Asian) as well as several LGBTQ+ characters who are openly queer (biracial, lesbian, nonbinary, gay). References to the history of institutional racism in the South and in North Carolina/Chapel Hill in particular.
The book not only features a Black girl protagonist but explores her magical powers rooted in race as well as the generational trauma from racism and slavery. Most chosen one stories do not center on a Black young woman, and Bree is both powerful and discriminated against. There is LGBTQ+ representation (one of the main characters is bisexual and secondary characters are queer).
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Violence & Scariness
Frequent bloody battles that lead to serious injuries and even death. Demons (who can take different forms) attack humans. Lots of peril, life-or-death situations, and a couple of jump scares. References to and examples of race-motivated violence, sexual violence, murder, self-harm to access power, torture, forced captivity, and physical abuse.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few scenes of passionate kissing as well as a lot of sexual, romantic tension and lingering/heated looks, small touches.
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Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "damn," "a--hole," "goddamn" and some coded racist language about Bree clearly being unfit, untested, and having the wrong background.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcohol consumption by underage and adult characters, drugging and medical abuse.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bloodmarked is the second book in the best-selling Legendborn series by Tracy Deonn. Bloodmarked expands the universe -- and stakes -- of the first book tenfold and makes it clear that the path for Bree to harness her power, fight the war ahead, and save the people she loves is full of deadly challenges. The author continues to explore institutional racism, generational trauma, and White supremacy -- but also the power of Black Girl Magic all woven within the context of established Aruthurian and African American folklore. There's a lot of sexual tension, some kissing, and a lot of pining and confusing romantic feelings surrounding the story's central love triangle. Violence is frequent and includes combat, self-harm as a catalyst to power, shape-shifting demons, and lots of life-or-death sequences -- not to mention references to sexual and physical violence from generations past. Readers will learn more about legends, magic systems, and the importance of representation in fantasy books.
Is It Any Good?
An action-packed second installment explores more world-building, generational trauma, harnessing power, and romantic tension. Like most "chosen one" protagonists, Bree's power is beyond remarkable, particularly because it accesses both the blood magic of her Arthurian ancestry and the root magic of her matrilineal African line. Despite her seemingly limitless (but unpredictable and uncontrolled) powers, Bree is utterly human and flawed. Although she's thoughtful and kind, she can be impulsive and will remind readers she's still a teenager coming of age *and* coming to terms with an extremely complicated situation. Deonn never shies away from addressing the painful past of enslavement and centuries of White supremacy and discrimination -- and how that history of racism impacts Bree's status as Scion.
Forget the campus drama of the first book, because the drama and trauma in the sequel is heightened exponentially. Romantic shippers hearts will either surge or sink as Bree and Sel -- who possesses demon blood -- fight, tease, and deal with growing feelings for each other. Nick's presence while felt palpably in the figurative sense, is literally missing, further making the love-triangle plot quite messy and in some ways overly obvious (it's tough to root for a love interest who isn't even around). Those familiar with intense love triangles in YA books should prepare themselves for a possibly devastating resolution, but first Bree -- like Harry, Katniss, Frodo, Alina, Tris and every other hero before her -- has to harness her powers and learn whom to trust.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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