Legendary (Caraval #2) by Stephanie Garber
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Caraval by Stephanie Garber burst onto the Young Adult book scene last year with a huge amount of applause from readers and critics alike. Since then everyone has been patiently waiting for more from this new author and the magical world she created in Caraval.
Legendary is book 2 of what we now know will be a 3 book series, with the final installment Finale due to hit bookshelves in 2019. Following directly on from Book 1, Legendary allows us to follow the other Dragna sister this time around, making our protagonist Donatella instead of Scarlett. Donatella featured only in limited amounts during Book 1 as Scarlett's task was to save her sister from Master Legend, the owner and master manipulator who runs the magical show Caraval. Immediately from the outset of this book it is clear that Tella is going to be a very different narrator from her more timid and romantic sister.
In Caraval I found Scarlett at times to be a little wishy-washy and hesitant to make her own decisions but we are left in no doubt that Tella is stronger willed, she has no such romantic notions about life and she is absolutely set on finding out who Master Legend is and has her sights firmly set on winning Caraval. Tella has much to lose if she fails to win Caraval as she has made a deal with a mysterious dark patron who has promised to give Tella her mother back if she will only win the game and inform him of the identity of the ring master and magician Legend. If she fails then she will never see her mother again and her life will be forfeit.
This book immediately had higher stakes than those in Caraval and because we have met many of the main figures from book 1 and are aware of how dark and twisted the game of Caraval can be we have no illusions that everything must be questioned and that some people are there to play roles that are not always honest to who they are in real life. This helps us establish a more clear storyline, no longer are we guessing who is involved and who is not, we know the ins and outs and so we focus instead on the twisted game Tella finds herself playing with her mysterious Patron, Jacks.
Steeped in just as much magic as book 1 the setting for Book 2 is even more enticing and richly painted by Garber and there are those little touches of fairy-tale about the story that makes you wish you were there playing Caraval alongside Donatella. There are also the questions of just who should win the girl, her dark and manipulative patron Jacks who holds sway over her that will make her do almost anything and the engaging Dante who she isn't sure she trusts after his role in the first game of Caraval and whom she suspects has more to hide than he lets on.
The ending of this book is absolutely magnificent and leaves us just desperate to immediately delve into Book 3, I cannot now wait for Finale's release next year. Overall this book is much stronger than Caraval, Garber has clearly taken feedback from the first novel and run with it, developing her characters and story arc magnificently into what stands as a stronger second book than the first, which in a trilogy is unusual and refreshing. A worthy higher rating than book one with 5 stars.