Blurb from Goodreads:
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.
When you enter the world of Caraval you’re signing up for magic, deception, and romance that would sweep you off your feet. I’m pleased to announce that Legendary didn’t fail to deliver all that. It took a while to build up the magic and the mystery around the whole new setting of Caraval. I, too, was bored during the first half of the book. But soon as Tella got into the thick of things, the story proceeded in a faster pace, the magic bloomed, the villains grew more and more threatening, and my curiosity won’t stop banging my brain willing it to read more.
“Every good story needs a villain.”
“But the best villains are the ones you secretly like.”
The writing was never short of magical. You can sense the magic flowing in Garber’s writing alone. I’m not particularly a fan of flowery prose but I love this one because it’s written so smoothly which is why it felt so effortless to read. It lures you in with promises of magic, of betrayals, and dangerous quests. And just when you thought you’re going to figure things out this time—because who haven’t learned anything from the previous Caraval game—Garber took the story into an entirely different turn. Now we were led to believe that this time the game is real. I dare say the stakes are higher, grander, and more perilous compared to the previous book.
She was bold. She was brave. She was cunning. And she was going to come out of this triumphant—no matter the cost.
Told from Tella’s point of view, Legendary picks up the day after the previous Caraval game. And we quickly learn of Tella’s secret activities and serious debts that her sister, Scarlett, wasn’t aware of. Being the wilder of the two sisters, Tella has a ton of secrets. One of them involves trying to locate their mother which stirred Tella to the direction of murderous yet dashing villains, and exceptionally deceptive players. While Legendary has enough familiar faces that you can count on from the previous book, it’s also filled with new characters that will poke your curiosity because they’re morally grey. And I was dying to know which side of their being—the good or the evil—would win in the end.
“If my mother had been a kinder or better person, I might have turned out good, and everyone knows how boring it is to be good.”
Unlike Caraval, the magic in Legendary didn’t lie on the game. Whatever it was that happened during the week-long Caraval in Valenda, was not a game. And no one could convince me otherwise. For me, the true pull of this book lies on Legend’s enigmatic identity. Stephanie Garber certainly has a talent of putting the obvious right in front of your eyes then she would make you question it and doubt it. And, of course, there’s also the interesting myths that Garber injected into the story—one that involves banished gods and goddesses fighting to return—making this installment two shades darker than its predecessor.
Aside from the magic and the lush prose, the romance is also a trademark of this series. It didn’t just made my heart swoon—it had me jumping on board every ship. Dante and Tella were unquestionably hot together. But I’m curious about Jacks, too—this dangerously mysterious prince whose kisses are fatal. I might have been obsessed with these characters for a while there. The romance is not the center of the plot but it provides balance between Tella’s dark and dangerous quests and falling in love.
I could see why some readers find this less enjoyable than the first book. The first half of it was pretty much uneventful. But once you get past that it’s one roller coaster ride. The plot gets absolutely immersive. And the reveals, though a little bit obvious, were still jaw-dropping. For me, this book exudes a dark kind of charm that I haven’t seen in Caraval. And for that, I’m willing to forget my half-the-book’s worth of boredom. I’d love to recommend this book to everyone, even those who didn’t end up loving Caraval as much. Definitely give this a try. Read it for the answers to your questions. Read it for its beautiful prose.