A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Long descriptions of passionate kisses with hands underneath clothing. Mentions of brothels, affairs; a bawdy joke.
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"Bastard" is used around a dozen times, plus sprinklings of "damn" and a "dirty hell."
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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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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.