Legendary (Caraval, #2)by Stephanie Garber Published 29 May 2018
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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.
"Legendary (Caraval, #2)" Reviews
Legendary is out today!! I'm so excited for readers to jump into this story! I hope you all enjoy it!
May 23rd Update: Legendary is only six days away! I'm so excited, and for anyone else who might be excited too, I thought it would be fun to share my Legendary Pinterest Board: https://www.pinterest.com/stephaniega...
Another update: Lots of readers have been asking me if Legendary is the last book in the Caraval series or if there will be more, and I'm thrilled to share that there will be another book: FINALE. I'm so excited to write this book, and if you're interested you can add it to your Goodreads shelf right now: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...
Update March 19, 2018: More exciting news! I'm going on tour for Legendary and today Bustle announced tour dates and locations. Hope to see some of you there: https://www.bustle.com/p/caraval-lege...
I devoured this wonderful, torturous book. And now I don't know what to do with myself aside from sit here and try and form some semblance of a review.
Friends, if you think you know everything about Caraval, you'd be wrong.
I'm going to keep this review spoiler free, especially as we're a little ways away from the release, but I'll just say this took a verrrry unexpected turn and I couldn't be more thrilled. But a word to the wise (and for those who know me) - I like when books throw punches in your gut and make you doubt everything you thought you knew.
First... a HUGE thank you to the amazing author, Stephanie, for the MS. I can't even begin to express my gratitude!
Legendary is told from Tella's perspective, and much to my delight, it picked up the morning after the first book. We're thrown into Tella's world and the consequences she faces after Caraval. And oh, there are plenty. I won't say much, but she owes a debt to a certain someone, and she's quickly swept up in a battle between power players.
Let's just say... Legend has enemies. Someone wants his true identity unmasked, and if Tella doesn't discover him and hand him over, she'll face losing everything, including her own life.
I knew I would like Tella, especially after what she did in the first book, but I didn't expect to fall so head-over-heels for this girl. She's way more complex and brave than she lets on. This is a girl you can root for. There's much more to her history and past that you don't get from Scarlett's POV, and oh my heart broke for her over and over.
This was why love was so dangerous. Love turned the world into a garden, so beguiling it was easy to forget that rose petals were as ephemeral as feelings, eventually they would wilt and die, leaving nothing but the thorns.
But perhaps the second best part was the returning characters. Though we're in Tella's POV, not even Scarlett's story is finished. She and Julian are still around, and so are rest of the Caraval crew. And of course, we're introduced to a new ensemble of characters.
And an entirely new world.
In fact, I daresay this one is even more magical than the last. New settings, new myths come to life. I will say it still felt a bit abstract, which certainly isn't a bad thing, especially if you like to get lost in your own imagination. The world is limitless here, and there be monsters.
Very dashing monsters, at that. Did I mention this book was hooooot?
For anyone that followed my status updates (and there were plenty - I couldn't help myself...) I was going straight up bananas. Like, let me tell you right now, you are in for a ride. Much like my experience of the first book, I was literally freaaaking out coming up with new theories around every corner. In this, oh my goodness... I can't even talk about it.
IS IT REALLY A GAME? OR IS IT REAL THIS TIME? AHHHHH.
In fact, I was worried about the ending. There was sooo much intrigue and so many open plots and there was no way it could live up.
But, oh... the end was beautiful. Because I had a billion and a half theories, I won't answer whether or not I was surprised. I will say this: Legend's reveal was perfection, and now I need to reread the whole series just to fully comprehend everything that took place.
But even still, I found myself even wanting more. Then I asked myself why. Why did I want more?
The answer was simple.
I just couldn’t bear to leave the world or the characters. I didn't want it to be over.
My advice to you is this: Go into this with no expectations and simply get lost with Tella. Just enjoy the ride, the characters, the thrill of adventure. There's a lot to wrap up in this book, and while I wanted to stay forever and learn everything about everyone, I am so in love with the end.
Stephanie crafted it perfectly.
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You know what, *pulls heart-shaped lollipop out of my mouth with a pop noise and points it right at you* I may be more into this series than originally planned....
Becoming re-obsessed with a story is probably the best feeling in the world. It feels like coming home, like "oh yeah this is why I loved you so much". I stayed up until the early hours of the morning reading this book with my eyes itching and burning with tiredness and my vision blurring as I was fighting to stay awake to finish it and when I did, it felt like all of a sudden my lifeless corpse was dropped down by strings like a puppet. It was that kind of an experience.
So what is this book about?
Legend is hosting his second magical games in a single year in Valenda—the capital of the empire—and while Scarlett doesn’t want to play again, Tella, most interested, as always, in the thing that remains unknowable to everyone—Legend’s identity—and enthralled by the carefully cultivated sense of danger to him, gets enmeshed once again in the deadly game. But this time, the stakes have never been higher: the lives of everyone tied to Caraval are a web, and Tella, had somehow managed to do something to get herself stuck at the very edge of it.
With the memory of the cursed Deck of Destiny she used as a child which prophesied her loveless future and the charged possibility of uncovering her mother’s whereabouts if she wins Caraval, Tella finds herself caught in an endless maze of reality and fantasy where everyone involved is suspended somewhere between the two.
“If you can convince yourself it's true, you can convince anyone.”
In a book where nothing is at it appears, one thing is certain: this story is a genuine pleasure to read. The author created a captivating, delightful tale with several aces up its sleeve. But the real star here is Caraval and its many secrets: an enthralling and imaginative world brimming with energy, mystery, backstabbing, romance and even more unforeseen twists. A world where everything seems not exactly undone but unmoored, completely released from the ruts of logic, where the rules become flexible, blurring the edges in a way that highlights that place where stories and real life convene, where magic contains truth and the world as it appears is false, where the future seems to hold too many possibilities to bear and just about anything can happen.
And even more! Because this time, outside the narrow circle of Caraval, other forces are at play—forces that emanate from a surrounding empire built on ancient mythologies, rumored gods and goddesses, and superstitions that have granted Caraval and Legend their power, making the feeling of charge, of possibility, immediately more pronounced.
I loved this book. I loved how the story was wrapped in a riddle and tucked into an enigma, and through that writhing confusion and bewilderment, my mind was racing, fighting to puzzle out what was happening. I was struggling to wrap logic around everything that was occurring, formulating hypotheses and dismantling them. I felt Tella's frustration whenever she manages to find the thread of a clue, to take hold of it and untangle its meaning, only to realize that someone, something is always a step ahead. I was also pleasantly surprisd by how the author pushed her world-building even further, expanding it to the complex machinations of the Prince of Hearts, Legend, and even the empress of Valenda.
On a slightly unrelated note, I know this isn't even remotely related to the actual events of this series, but what if—just hear me out—what if Legend is actually some sort of ageless nymph who just kind of came into existence sometime in the early 1800s and has been trying to share the magic and the otherworldly and transcendental beauty of Caraval with humanity ever since but everyone keeps interfering, spreading rumors filled with cryptic warnings about Caraval being a hazardous game orchestrated by a devilish someone with terrible powers who's intent on destroying them all...propelling Legend to succumb to the innacurate myth that was built for him and proving that human race is a failure.
Anyway, the unfinished feeling of the story is definitely going to eat me from the inside out until the next book. This book has set up a future volume which promises to go bigger and I can't wait!
“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.”
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Ok someone has to do this gif:
Anywayssss I just read this book in one sitting with a stupid grin on my face because the way everything unfolds is absolutely BRILLIANT. I won't spoil anything here, though!! Just a few random thoughts...
The main character in this sequel is Scarlett's sister Tella, whom I absolutely love. She has so much agency that it's just amazing to watch the story take shape:
"Tella might have been many things, but she was far from silly or worthless or whatever labels people liked to affix because a person was young and female. Tella liked to think that was where much of her strength came from. She was bold. She was brave. She was cunning. And she was going to come out of this triumphant - no matter the cost."
Tella needs to win Caraval to see her mother again, but will also come face-to-face with Legend if she wins. I thought we might possibly maaaaaybe have an advantage going into this story since we're familiar with Caraval from the previous book. But, nope... we're told that the game is real this time, so even the general concept of Caraval is unreliable.
Once again, the story becomes an incredibly twisted web of identities, loyalties, and motivations (even from characters you think you know). For most of this book I was sitting there like "EVERYONE IS LEGEND. NOBODY IS LEGEND. Am I Legend?!"
I would love to see how Stephanie plots out these stories because they're such a fun roller coaster of reveals and FEELS. Her strong writing is another aspect that really stands out... I honestly couldn't put this down and totally forgot I was reading a piece of paper. The execution is so good and the writing is so engaging that it's completely effortless to read. That alone is so, so wonderful to find, but then there's an awesome story on top of it aaaaand now I have a major book hangover.
Umm other things I loved: the cocky guys, POC characters, romance, new setting, and that ending omgggg. I don't care what we've been told - I STILL TRUST NOTHING OK.
Basically, this was everything I hoped for. If you liked Caraval then get excited for this one!!
Thank you to the publisher for sending me an ARC. The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
ARC provided by Flatiron in exchange for an honest review.
1.) Caraval ★★★★
“But the best villains are the ones you secretly like, and my nana always said Legend was the villain in Caraval.”
I know that Caraval was a super polarizing read last year when it released, but I fell on the side of totally loving. From the game, to the mystery, to the lyrical writing, to the compelling characters, I couldn’t get enough. I devoured it in two sittings and never wanted to stop the reading experience. And guess what? Legendary was no different.
In Caraval we follow Scarlett and watch her run away from her home, and her abusive father, so that she can try to rescue her sister, Donatella, by winning the magical game of Caraval. Well, immediately after the outcome from Caraval, Legendary picks right up. Except this time, we follow Donatella, and she has stumbled on her own very own mystery and her very own game. And forget everything you think you learned in Caraval, because this trilogy takes a completely new approach, with completely new twists and turns, in Legendary.
“Legend has chosen you to play a game that may change your destiny.
In honor of Empress Elantine’s 75th birthday,
Caraval will visit the streets of Valenda for six magical nights.”
The invitations are distributed and a brand-new game of Caraval is going to begin, in a brand-new empire that is ruled by a very powerful empress. And this time Tella has decided to play so that she too has a chance to locate someone who has disappeared from her and Scarlett’s lives, their mother. Paloma was truly a woman of mystery, but we are able to see a few flashbacks that Tella has of her mother, along with a few of the keepsakes that Tella has kept all these years.
“For it was also said the Prince of Hearts was not capable of love, because his heart had stopped beating long ago. Only one person could make it beat again: his one true love. They said his kiss had been fatal to all but her—his only weakness—and as he’d sought her, he’d left a trail of corpses.”
We also get to see that a magical card prophesied that Tella would be a victim of unrequited love for her entire life. So, a ring that appears to be more than just a ring, and a card (think Tarot cards) that Tella took against her mother’s will, is all she has as clues. That is, until she meets someone who knows much more about that particular card, and the entire Deck of Destiny. And Tella ends up trying to win Caraval for this new stranger, for her mother, for her heart, for her life, and for Legend himself. Because the only way Tella will ever see her mother again is to win this game.
This book also had a bit more romance than Caraval, but I was completely living for it. And I’m still living for it, honestly. And like, we are maybe about to get a love triangle and I’m still totally here for it. And some of these scenes were legit 11/10, and I completely recommend. Also, I’m still swooning over Dante. But I also can’t stop thinking about Jacks and love that good angst. Be still, my heart.
“I’ve never wanted to be someone else until that moment I saw him kiss you on the dance floor.”
Okay, now I don’t want to gush too hard on you all, but you want to know what this book reminded me of? The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King by Holly Black. And chapter thirteen was such a work of art. Probably the best chapter I’ve read in any book in all of 2018.
So, why did I end up giving this four stars and not five with glowing sentences like the paragraph above this one? With so many twists and turns throughout this book, all of which blindsided me and made me fall more and more in love, the ending ended up being so predictable. Like, to the point that I thought it couldn’t be real, and that the epilogue was going to pull the wool from my eyes. But no, the disappointment just stayed. Which is so sad, because this book was so good, and such a treat to read in every single way, but the ending just made this amazing book really end on a bad note.
“Tella would destroy the world before she allowed anything to happen to her sister.”
Also, there wasn’t as much of a positive sibling emphasis in this book. Like, Tella was 100% committed to Scarlett, and we know from Caraval that Scarlett was 100% committed to Tella, but Legendary didn’t do anything to help enforce that percentage. Scarlett was honestly kind of a hot mess in this book, from start to (especially) end. I pray that Finale is either entirely in Tella’s point of view or it switches between Scarlett and Tella’s point of view. I don’t think I can deal with another solo Scarlett book after her actions in Legendary.
But overall, I really did love reading this. Again, I know not everyone does, but I just love Stephanie Garber’s writing and purple prose so much. I completely connect with it, and it completely immerses. I always feel like I’m there for all six nights of Caraval, in the castles, carriages, balls, and cathedrals. Also, these books and their settings are such aesthetic goals, I swear! Plus, this entire series is such a love letter to morally grey characters! I can’t wait to see how this all wraps up in the last book, Finale.
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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Buddy read with Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills! ❤
Do you know what is an absolute magical delicious delight?! THIS BOOK. There is no hope for me btw, I am completely gone. I'm just so in love with this world, these characters, the twisty plots of magic and mind games and darkness and glitter...it is EVERYTHING. It just captures me so much! Coupled with gorgeous writing that makes you feel like you, too, get to experience Caraval?!
10000% all my affections are YOURS, little book, I'm ready to be destroyed for the finale. Who needs calmness anyway. [chokes on a laugh and dies]
+ I was really excited that we get to have another game of Caraval!
This time it's set in a different town, different rules, different stakes = but it's still so intoxicatingly mysterious and twisty. This is like one of my favourite Slytherin books. NO ONE is being straightforward. It's all double-crossing the double crossed and outwitting someone who's already playing tricks on you. Who's lying???? Who's who they say they are??? WE DON'T GET TO KNOW. I freaking love this.
+ It's narrated by Tella this time.
Thank you, lifesaver, because holy heck, Tella is AWESOME. (And I won't lie lmao, Scarlett was so whiny and such a damsel in book one that I nearly broke a plate and ate through a brick wall.) Tella is refreshingly herself. She kisses boys without a care and wears murderously gorgeous dresses and is unapologetic. Also she doesn't judge Scarlett for being an opposite and Scarlett doesn't judge her. TheSE SISTERS. THANK YOU. And I also loved how Tella is caught between playing games and actually fiercely caring about things. The whole book she's like: "I dO NOT LOVE" while, ya know, furiously loving so so many people.
YOU'RE GOING TO GET HURT, TELLA, AND I'LL CRY WITH YOU.
+ The sisters!! Can we !! flail over the !! sister bonds!!
Family is like such a huge theme for these books! Scarlett would do anything for Tella and Tella would do anything for Scarlett. AND her mother! Like Tella just really wants to find her long-lost-mother. And also the fact that Scarlett/Tella are survivors of abuse and they like support each other and listen is really really awesome afjdkslad. Bring me all the sister stories. Reminds me that I'd sell all my sisters for a grape but I DON'T CARE. I APPRECIATE THE FICTIONAL ONES.
+ Okay but all the boys?! They were beautiful and also probably evil.
I love it. This is like the right way to write devious and dark boys...it's not all alpha/abusive/relationships. (THANK YOOOOU.) It's mind games and sinister magic and otherworldly powers and manipulation. Livin' for the Slytherins here. LIVIN FOR IT. Also I totally loved Dante, who works in Caraval but maybe/maybe doesn't love Tella. Their relationship is so love/hate and trust/distrust, but it played out so well. And infuriatingly. I will sCREAM a little, but it's ok.
Also Jacks was a freaking nightmare but also so interesting. Also he ate a lot of apples and was so pale he was nearly blue and 100% an otherworldly demon. But why so many apples Jacks. I have eaten pears for like 3 months straight and now can't touch them again. Do not ruin apple pie for yourself, you dumb son, look at me looking out for the villains. I can't even.
+ THE MAGIC!!
This time we have cursed cards and Fates who are trying to be let free. And also there's the eternal question of: WHO IS LEGEND. (I knooooow now afjdklafds I KNOW!!!) And every question and mystery and complicated messy subplot was tied up so gorgeously.
I'M JUST A WHOLE PLATE OF GUSHING ADORATION RIGHT NOW. UGH. LOOK AT ME GO.
+ And the ending?!
Both satisfying and torturous. I want morrrre and I'm slightly suffocating with the need to find out what happens next. I think (I heard?!) both Scarlett and Tella will narrate the next one and I'm !!! excited!! [spoilers removed]
ALL IN ALL: This was an enthralling read of magic and puzzles, with the most intoxicating plot and characters I just couldn't get enough of. I was glued to this page. My eyeballs are in LOVE with the gorgeously lush writing. The gowns! The flowers! The jewels! The richness dripping off the page in perfect descriptions! GAH. Everything about this caught my heart.
** Quotes taken from the ARC**
Scarlett was Tella's person -- the one someone in the world whom Tella could always count on. Tella might not have believed in falling love, but she had literally bet her life that Scarlett loved her. Tella would destroy the world before she allowed anything to happen to her sister.
Every dish imaginable, from honeycomb towers with edible flowers to a candied pig with an apple in its mouth, was present. There were miniature fruit trees growing out of chocolate-dipped plumbs and brown-sugar-glazed peaches. Wedges of cheese peeking out of miniature treasure chests made of pastry. Upside-down turtle shells filled with soup. Finger sandwiches shaped like actual fingers. colourful plates of salted pink and red radishes. Water with lavender bubbles, and peach-coloured wine with berries at the bottom of the glass.