Legendary: A Caraval Novel

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Legendary: A Caraval Novel Book Poster Image
Dramatic magical romance sequel has daring female hero.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Magic involving blood cures, poisons, the stealing of memories and draining of life force, enchanted tarot cards, and more. All can be traced to other magical fantasies in various ways. Also, the revering of many vengeful gods called Fates, which mixes ideas from Greek mythology with tarot cards.

Positive Messages

Deceit, power, manipulation are fought against with bravery, independence, compassion, love. Offers a reminder that your fate is in your own hands, not in a tarot deck, and that we can still have compassion for those who disappoint us.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Donatella (Tella) comes out from behind her older sister Scarlett's shadow. She's more daring and more reckless than Scarlett in many ways but very careful with her feelings. She moves from a place of distrust and guardedness to bravely trusting and sacrificing herself for those she loves.

Violence

An attack with knives; a beating that shatters a wrist and leads to a near-fatal fall in freezing cold water (followed by magical healing via drinking blood). A magical sapping of life force that leads to a slowed heartbeat; bleeding of the fingernails, ears, and mouth; the fear of a final death in one week. Someone is choked. Magical imprisonment that's nearly fatal. Talk of  escape from the main character's abusive father and abandonment by the mother.

Sex

Long descriptions of passionate kisses with hands underneath clothing. Mentions of brothels, affairs; a bawdy joke.

Language

"Bastard" is used around a dozen times, plus sprinklings of "damn" and a "dirty hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character, who's almost 17, drinks wine at parties and at a dress fitting. At the beginning of the story, she's hung over after a celebration. This is the only time she seems to overindulge. Mention of women on the street smoking cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Legendary is the second book in the magical Caraval series. This installment focuses on younger sister Tella, who's nearly 17 and more of a risk-taker than her sister Scarlett, who starred in Caraval. Tella drinks wine, once to excess, and exchanges passionate kisses with two men, one of them dangerous. She's attacked with knives, shatters her wrist, and nearly drowns, and is healed by drinking blood. A magical sapping of life force leads to a slowed heartbeat; bleeding of the fingernails, ears, and mouth; and the fear of a final death in one week. A magical imprisonment is nearly fatal. Language is limited to mostly "bastard," which is used to describe the men Tella's dealing with, who use deceit and manipulation to get what they want. Tella moves from a place of distrust and guardedness to bravely trusting and sacrificing herself for those she loves.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byStudiousStudent June 8, 2018

Great Sequel

I think the best word to describe Legendary by Stephanie Garber is magical. If you liked Caraval, then it's almost guaranteed that you'll like Legenda... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byGwen904 October 22, 2018

Fiery but disappointing sequel

Legendary is quite different from its predecessor Caraval. It's from Tella's perspective, which means the romance factor is upped and the passionate k... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old July 21, 2018

Even better than the first

I think this book is better than the first, and that's not something I was expecting. But Stephanie Garber adds even more twists and turns, and keeps the s... Continue reading

What's the story?

In LEGENDARY, it's the day after Caraval, and Tella wakes up in the woods with the roguish, handsome Dante. She sneaks away, hung over, thinking about how she wouldn't be kissing him again. So it's rather inconvenient that Dante is on the same ship with Tella and her sister, Scarlett, headed for Valenda for a special Caraval game to commemorate Empress Elantine's birthday. Once they're in the city, Dante seems to be around every turn: at a ball where Tella kisses someone more dangerous than she ever imagined, at a gown fitting, at temples around the city hiding clues to the game she must win. Dante's constant presence makes Tella's secrets hard to keep -- secrets she's also keeping from her sister, who wouldn't understand why she'd enlisted the help of a mysterious benefactor to find their imprisoned mother. When Tella learns that this benefactor demands Legend's true name as payment -- and that her mother's life is on the line without it -- she knows Dante is the last person she should tell, even though she's falling for him.

Is it any good?

Readers who like to get carried away by dramatic romance, magic, and mystery will enjoy this sequel more than the first, despite some hiccups in the storytelling. We've got a new game, a new setting, and a new main character: Scarlett's more daring younger sister, Donatella. Tella's embroiled in all kinds of mischief before the Caraval team leaves one game and one island for another. She's to meet a benefactor who's demanding nearly impossible-to-obtain information in return for Tella's imprisoned mother. As this goal intertwines with the need to win the next Caraval game at all costs -- and the need to stay alive until then (tricky when her life force is slowly stolen in a huge mistake of a kiss) -- the story really gets intriguing.

Sometimes it feels like there's too much going on. It's clear that the information about the stars and the Fates sets up the remainder of the series, but too much setup detracts from Legendary. There's a bit too much explaining, too. Author Stephanie Garber, writing her first series, doesn't know when to trust readers to understand the stakes and how they shift with each new layer of complication. She often over-explains and resorts to straight telling instead of letting the action speak and her readers interpret and wonder for themselves. Still, there's much to wonder about at the end of Legendary, which promises exciting twists to come in Book 3.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about male power and trust in Legendary. How do men exert their power in this story? How does Tella work to thwart these men and reach her goal?

  • What are the difficult decisions Tella has to make? How does she decide what's right? How does it change her?

  • Will you read the next book in the Caraval series? What do you think is in store for Tella? For Legend? This series' tension rides on secrets. Who still has the most secrets to reveal?

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