Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #2
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: May 29th, 2018 (Flatiron Books)
Synopsis: 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…
“Legends were supposed to be better than the truth.”
Caraval has ended on Isla de los Sueños. Scarlett has won, and Tella has both saved her sister as well as escaped from her father. But Tella still has her end of a bargain to uphold, made with a mysterious acquaintance (probably a criminal) who lives in Valenda. He wants nothing less than Legend’s identity – the one thing that seems completely impossible to find. Yet, it is to Valenda, the capital of the Meridian Empire, that Caraval travels next, and Tella discovers that this game, the winner will be given their prize by Legend himself.
Tella finds herself wrapped up in Caraval yet again, but this time as a player. And more than the prize is at stake – the bargain, her life, and information about her long lost mother all hang in the balance. The rule has always been to remember that this is only a game, but this time, the rules state that the game is very real. Still, this is Caraval, and nothing is as it appears.
“Every good story needs a villain.
But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.”
I was right – Tella does make for a much more interesting narrator! Where in the first book, Tella appeared to be little more than a pretty airhead, her personality is well-rounded and she grows into an easily likeable character in this book. It was so much easier to connect with Tella’s voice than Scarlett’s and I do hope Finale is also narrated from Tella’s POV. Scarlett meanwhile, was nothing short of annoying in this book – especially with her decision at the end, which seemed entirely unnecessary. Where I previously liked Scarlett and Julian, they felt very much like sidelined characters this time around. Dante was not a character I expected to see again, but he turned out to be more central to the story than I imagined! And of course, Legend’s identity is finally revealed and due to the hints dropped throughout the book, it didn’t come as a huge shock, it was more along the lines of what was part of the game and what was real, just like with the first book. As a reader, you find yourself second guessing everything right alongside Tella as you are once more drawn into the magic and wonder of Caraval.
The most interesting part of Legendary was getting to know Tella’s motivations and just how much of the events of the first book were brought about by her actions. The introduction of the Fates, such a powerful force in this universe, felt very abrupt. A little more background would have been nice. As for Caraval itself, the magic remained, but I felt that the focus in Legendary turned away from the game and more to the plot and characters – a very good thing, because this turned out to be far more complex and fun than I expected!
The middle installment in trilogies are usually the hardest of the three for me to read because the pacing often changes, but I had no issues at all with Legendary despite having waited nearly a year to read it. Stephanie Garber has managed to keep up the fast-paced and engrossing narration right from page one in this imaginative sequel, and with that unexpected twist at the end, I’m extremely curious to see how this is going to play out. I can’t wait for Finale!