Review: Legendary (#2) by Stephanie Garber

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Goodreads | Waterstones

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’m so glad I decided to re-read this. I read Caraval when it came out, and read Legendary when it came out too, and something just felt missing to me. I decided I wouldn’t risk leaving the same gap with Finale in case that was the reason I didn’t feel so captivated by this, and am finally reading them all back to back with Alex. And although this one definitely doesn’t capture my heart in the same way as Caraval, not leaving a gap between them definitely helped!

This book follows Scarlett’s sister, Tella, in the next game of Caraval. I really like both Scarlett and Tella as main characters, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed to follow her for a while. Both the sisters are strong female characters and Tella is especially ruthless, knows what she wants and isn’t scared to get it. This story is definitely more character heavy than Caraval, which is weirdly one of the ways it disappointed me.

Every good story needs a villain.

One of the things I adore about Caraval so much is the location and the setting heavy style of the writing. I feel as though Legendary goes away from this a little and focuses more on the characters instead. And although I enjoy the mix of both, I did miss the vivid descriptions and way of picturing the scene. I also really liked the romance in this one, and I feel like Stephanie Garber writes romance really well and does an amazing job of capturing your heart with characters you’d least expect.

The plot was definitely one of the best parts of this book. I didn’t find it quite so enthralling as the first one, but I still found this super easy to read and get into, and it was very readable. Learning about the wider world of Caraval and exploring some of the other relationships outside of the one’s already mentioned in Caraval was really interesting. The character dynamics were well written and I enjoyed reading about them.

But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.

I do still feel like this book is lacking something in comparison to Caraval, a kind of vibrancy in the descriptions. So although this is still a super enjoyable one, I couldn’t help but feel ever so slightly let down. We’re reading Finale next for the first time and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it is!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

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Goodreads | Amazon

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 loved this book. But did it capture my heart? Not exactly, and that little fact makes me want to cry. You see, Legendary, for me, had a hell of a lot to live up to. Caraval was something extremely special, and it absolutely captured my heart. When I finished that book, I made mood boards and playlists. It made me feel like magic was really woven between the beautiful paper pages.

And although I still really loved and admired this gorgeous book, I don’t feel as though my heart has been captured right now. It’s really hard to describe what was wrong here, but I’m going to try. For a start, it took me a week to read. And yes, that’s a personal thing, and I have a lot on my mind at the moment, but I just didn’t feel as though I needed to be inside the pages of this book all the time. Trust me, there were parts when I couldn’t stop reading, but it wasn’t so constant.

“Her heart was still a little heavy,”

Let’s talk about the things I love. Well, I love Tella. I felt as though there has been enough space between the first book so I wasn’t too sad about missing Scarlett as a narrator, and I really liked Tella’s character. She just felt real – she had her own difficult decisions and confusion and she didn’t always know where her life was heading. I loved her struggles and her torture, because it made her the relatable and lovable girl she is.

I also really enjoyed the story and other characters. I liked the way Legendary explores Tella’s relationships and friendships with not just her mother but with many other characters. They provided a really interesting development for me, and I did want to read on to find out which paths Tella was about to choose. Can I just also mention something? THE LOVE. AHHH. Okay. So Garber still leaves me shipping couples, and the romance was definitely the best part of this book for me. God, Garber knows how to write romance and kisses.

“but she’d decided carrying it around would only maker her stronger.”

So thinking about all this, compared to other books, this one could easily be 5 stars. However, I can’t help but compare this to Caraval. And that makes me feel as though this series has just lost it’s vibrancy. I really wanted more vivid descriptions of the world and game itself, as I remember Caraval being very setting heavy. And that’s the reason why, I’m sorry to say, I’m going to give this one…

★★★★
4 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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