Thank you to Flatiron Books for the chance to read and review this novel.
After reading Caraval not long ago, I was ecstatic to see Legendary available on Netgalley. Though Caraval didn’t quite live up to the hype for me, I was still anxious to continue with the series and hopefully be able to find out just who the mysterious Legend was. I was happy to learn the follow-up would feature Tella’s perspective as opposed to Scarlet’s in the first book. Though I didn’t mind Scarlet’s point-of-view, I found her to be a bit of a lackluster character. Tella seemed to steal the show and was the more exciting of the two sisters, in my opinion.
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.
I felt rewarded with a great start to this story with the mysterious “friend” Tella is indebted to, and I was eager to see where the plot would go. I must say, I was impressed with the pace of the first half of the novel and found it to be more interesting than its predecessor. I really enjoyed the addition of the Fates, playing cards, and the excitement Tella’s personality brought to the story. This time, she was able to experience what it’s like to play the game of Caraval, only to discover the consequences of this game seem much more realistic. Unfortunately, some of the writing, particularly in the beginning, came across as a tad juvenile, mainly in the vivid descriptions of the colors Tella was witnessing. Palatial Pink turned into purple prose.
Much like the first novel, I found the excitement toward the end of the story dwindling. As with Caravel, I was enthralled by the imagination of Stephanie Garber and the entire concept of the book, but the execution left me wanting once more. The last two days of Caraval not only plague the characters, the author seems to find herself stuck as well. Instead of loads of action, as there should be in the conclusion, the characters go somewhere and discuss their goals or what they expect the outcome of the game will be OVER and OVER again. The repetition of the same descriptions became excessive and boring. I wanted to yell at the characters to DO SOMETHING instead of chatting about what would happen.
Now, all of this is not to say this is a terrible novel. I loved parts of this story, as I loved parts of Caraval. I never wanted to stop reading and I didn’t want to give a bad review. One of my favorite characters was the antagonist, which is something that rarely happens for me! I also think fans of Caraval will be exceptionally pleased with the follow-up. Unfortunately, the fact of such imagination not being executed to its fullest potential is incredibly disappointing to me. I want to be swept away and once again it wasn’t possible, thanks to the flat second half. Reading this novel felt like attempting to watch a movie with a blank screen while only hearing the dialogue. Something was missing and I wanted to see more.
Once again, we are left with unanswered questions meaning only one thing: a third book must be in the works. As much as I would like to know more, I don’t know if I have it in me to continue with a third three-star-read. I want all of the details, but my expectations of getting it are quite low. Overall, I was satisfied with finally learning Legend’s identity, Tella’s perspective, and the new characters. I actually enjoyed this more than Caraval, but I think my disappointment with the story fizzling out during the last two days of the game overshadow my enthusiasm for the novel on the whole.