I’m a bit shocked right now.
Let’s flash back to April of last year, shall we? CARAVAL was easily my most anticipated read. Easily. I went in with such high expectations, only to come out highly disappointed – and with a one star rating. On my most anticipated read. Cue the crying.
But, honestly? I knew I wanted to read book two. I loved the world and the magic system, even as I despised Scarlett’s narration and the horrendous, purple-prose-infused writing style.
So color me surprised when, three-fourths of the way in, I knew I will be giving LEGENDARY at least three stars. And those turned out to be four in the end.
So: why? Why the sudden leap in rating? And this is point where I attempt to sort out my erratic thoughts into something humane on mortal eyes.
Tella’s narration is exponentially better than Scarlett’s. Tella is more … accessible? Relatable? She’s smart and cunning and not selfish, exactly. She’s more real, is my point.
The magic system – BOOM – exploded into surprising sheer awesomeness. It’s no longer just a magic circus-like world – we have enchanted, cursed playing cards now, and foretelling visions, and wayyyy more dark mysterious shenanigans going on. I’m especially in love with the creepy playing cards, for some reason. Excellent addition, and it saved the magic system that would have easily grown boring this second time around.
The romance was actually compelling this time. The old Scarlett/Julian combo was weird and creepy and blah, honestly. But Tella’s side of things? They actually gave me some semblance of emotion, so kudos on that. Dante is dark and semi-mysterious with his trimmed suits and tattoos. There’s some depth to him, even if he does come off as kinda creepy. I like him, I do! Much better than Julian, might I add.
The writing got a style transplant, and I couldn’t have been happier. Please refer to my CARAVAL review for horrendous writing style examples that I quoted for y’all. When I opened LEGENDARY, I was bracing for the cringey metaphors and weird synesthesia, but here it’s oddly … gone. Which is so unexpected, I had to make sure this is still a Stephanie Garber book. The wild purple prose is now controlled, resembling something that’s almost, dare I say, pretty. A bit lyrical, too.
So all in all? If you hated CARAVAL with the fiery passion of a thousand suns (à la ME), you’ll like this one. Yeah, I never would have believed it either, and yet.
Thank you, Flatiron Books, for the ARC!