Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval. This sequel, titled Legendary, was released in North America on May 29, 2018, and despite promises of splendor and magic, Legendary fell a bit flat, certainly not living up to the wonder of Caraval.
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.
While Caraval was filled to the brim with magic and wonder a plenty, really immersing the reader in a brand new world that Garber had crafted, Legendary falls dreadfully short – and not only in comparison to its predecessor. As a reader, I dove into this expecting the same thrills and unexpectedness of Caraval, and instead I got what seemed like a half-fast plot, a muddled sense of the world, and hardly any magic.
Seriously, where did the magic go? Compared to its predecessor, it seems that hardly anyone is actually playing the game, and all the oddities and spectacular weirdness of Caraval seemed seriously toned down.
Furthermore, some of Garber’s writing, particularly in the beginning (though this certainly wasn’t an isolated issue), came across as a tad juvenile, mainly in the vivid descriptions of the colors Tella was witnessing, and her opinions of those around her. This was disappointing, as it set a rather bland and uninspiring tone for Tella’s narrative, which seeped into her point-of-view throughout the entire book.
Finally, the execution of the story, especially its conclusion, was shoddy at best. As a reader, I was really expecting more finesse from Garber when it came to her sophomore novel (or at very least some clarity), but the plot felt patched together and muddled – and not in a good way. In particular, the last couple days of this Caraval seem to drag on, as if not even Garber knew where she was really going with this story, then somehow managed to piece together a less than stellar conclusion that leaves the reader with a sour taste in their mouth.
Overall, Legendary had a lot of potential – as we know, Garber’s imagination can be stunningly vibrant, but it really just didn’t shine through in Legendary. The fact of such imagination not being executed to its fullest potential is incredibly disappointing, and when this is combined with a less than exciting main point-of-view, an under-developed setting, and a lack luster plot, its the perfect recipe for a mediocre book (2.5/5).