Legendary is the second entry in Stephanie Garber’s Caraval trilogy and picks up immediately following the events of the first book, but instead of seeing things from Scarlett’s point of view, this time we follow her sister, Donatella.
As a protagonist, Donatella (or Tella for short) is easier to root for than Scarlett—she’s bold, confident, and goes after what she wants. Where Scarlett had to be prodded along at times in Caraval, Tella waits for no one. Unfortunately, her decisions are often needlessly reckless and hasty, which can be frustrating, but at least Garber gives her the saving grace of owning her flaws.
Like Caraval, Legendary wants to be twistier than it actually is, but I felt like I saw most of the turns coming. I really think it was only Tella who was surprised, and that’s because she doesn’t stop to think. It’s less focused on the game this time, which does slow down the pacing a bit, but I was fine with that since it meant I got more character focus & a deeper sense of the world in exchange. Because as it turns out, there’s a lot more going on in the world of this story than the game of Caraval.
Fortunately, this time around we get more history & mythology world-building to help piece things together, but I’m still hoping it gets a more thorough explanation in the final book. It just feels like a lot to sort through right now, what with Legend’s shrouded past, the Fates, an unnamed witch who’s mysteriously involved with both, and maybe some super-intense star cult people, not to mention the mysteries surrounding the heir to the throne and Scarlett & Tella’s mother…It all sounds interesting and promising, but we’re already two books in and I’m not convinced it’s all necessary. Especially since pretty much all of this information showed up in book two and most of the information from book one didn’t reappear at all. Honestly, as far as the plot of the series goes, I think you could almost skip Caraval altogether—the only details that didn’t appear to be forgotten (Legend’s history with Tella’s grandmother?) or retconned (the identity of Scarlett’s ex-fiancé) are that Scarlett saved Tella, and that Scarlett and Julian are romantically involved. Maybe it will be more of a factor in book three…
All in all, I give Legendary 3 out of 5 stars. It’s an intriguing story, but I’m expecting a lot out of the finale to convince me how the series works as a whole.