by Tracy Deonn

Legendborn cover
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Margaret K. McElderry, 2020
512 pages

Age 13 and older

African American Bree, 16, grief stricken since her mother’s death in a car accident, is in the Early College program at UNC-Chapel Hill, her mom’s alma mater. When she discovers the Order of the Roundtable, a secret society dedicated to fighting Shadowborn that threaten the world, a merlin attempts to mesmer Bree so she won’t remember the demon attack she witnessed, or the Order. Not only does it fail, it sparks a memory of a mesmer attempt the night her mother died. Certain someone in the Order is behind her mom’s death, Bree convinces her white peer mentor/boyfriend Nick, scion of King Arthur, to sponsor her as a Page in the Order. Smoldering Sel, the merlin sworn to protect Nick, is suspicious of Bree’s ability to resist mesmer. Bree doesn’t understand it either, until her Black female therapist explains that African American Rootcraft runs strong in Bree, and did in Bree’s mother, too.  This revelation amplifies Bree’s  sense of loss, and her determination to find answers. One of many remarkable elements of this brilliant reimagining of a tale traditionally mired in whiteness is its direct, unflinching reckoning with racism in both the present and past, including the trauma and traumatic legacy of slavery. Bree’s place in this contemporary Arthurian legend is unassailable, the reason behind it immeasurably painful, mirroring truths that resonate in our country today. A rich cast of supporting characters add to the pleasure and depth of a story that also examines friendship, family, loyalty, loss, and love. ©2021 Cooperative Children’s Book Center