Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Legendary, or, The One With ALL THE FANCY DRESSES



Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Pages: 451
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: May 29th, 2018
Cover Comments: Almost as beautiful as Caraval's cover. I love the dark starry black background with the red rose spade, both subtle nods to the plot.
First Lines: "While some rooms on the estate had monsters hiding beneath the beds, Tella swore her mother's suite concealed enchantment."

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

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.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.



“Every good story needs a villain. But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.”

I think the word that best sums up Legendary, like Caraval before it, is enchanting.

Caraval was my favorite new release last year, and Legendary has claimed that title for 2018 as well. Stephanie Garber manages to maintain the magic of Caraval, while giving us an entirely new story and perspective, looking through Tella's eyes instead of Scarlett's.



Call me shallow for putting this first but WOW. Stephanie Garber really outdid herself in her descriptions of all the decadent costumes in this book. I've never been one to especially pay attention to clothing in books, but every gown described in Legendary is a show stopper. I would love to see this series in movie or tv format if only for the dresses.

2. writing

Just like in Caraval, Stephanie Garber's writing is so decadent and magical that you feel transported to the scenes she's describing. A little tidbit:

“The air tasted like wonder. Like candied butterfly wings caught in sugared spiderwebs, and drunken peaches coated in luck.”
The way colors and scents are described in this book are so vivid, and they really helped me to envision all the wonderful and terrible scenes.

3. even sexier romance, if you can believe it

“His mouth was crashing against hers. He tasted like exquisite nightmares and stolen dreams, like the wings of fallen angels, and bottles of fresh moonlight.”

I loved Julian and Scarlett's romance in Caraval, but Tella's boyz in this book are on a whole 'nother level. Tella is a more bold character who enjoys a good game, and the games she plays with Dante are SMOKING. Their relationship is complicated, but never boring and never without palpable sexual tension. I also liked that we got glimpses of Julian and Scarlett's relationship through Tella spying on them (lol).

5. caraval, reimagined

Another game of Caraval could have felt like a repeat of the last book, but this game is utterly different. The stakes are so much higher, and the prize is personal. The rules from last game are thrown out the window and Tella is left wondering if she even wants to win.

6. new characters & back stories

This book gave so much depth to the Caraval world, with interlaid mythologies, long-forgotten villains, and lost family members. We learn so much about Dante, Tella's mother Paloma, and the history of the world itself. It  never felt too much like exposition, instead told through stories that interlaced with the current events in the book.

7. satisfying but open ending

I was afraid of a cliffhanger ending, but Garber avoids that, instead resolving many of the plot lines of this book, while setting up the last novel, Finale, in a way that makes me anxious to read it, but not angry at being left hanging.


1. slightly predictable

There were lots of twists and turns in the book, but I predicted a good amount of them. On top of that, I didn't feel that some of the twists really made sense (ex: a certain one true love). I'm hopeful that some things will be explained better in Finale, and we'll get to see why certain events played out the way they did.

2. a little more game, a little less talk

This Caraval felt less like a game and more like Tella wandering around chatting with people. I wanted more magical trades, daring contests, and secret passageways. And Tella, bless her heart, isn't as good at playing games as she thinks she is. When one character tells her she gets some free questions, she immediately wastes a question on something inconsequential. She's also even more gullible than Scarlett, despite her untrusting attitude toward everyone.

The positives far outweigh the negatives for me though, and I'm sure that Legendary will rank highly in my top reads of 2018. I can't wait to get caught up in the world of Tella, Scarlett, and Legend next time in Finale.

“Not everyone gets a true ending. There are two types of endings because most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most. only those who persevere can find their true ending.”

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads δΈ¨ Amazon

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