Bloodmarked, the highly anticipated sequel to Tracy Deonn’s bestselling debut Legendborn, is finally out in the world, and it was absolutely worth the wait. Bloodmarked picks up shortly after book 1’s events: Bree is the Awakened Scion of King Arthur and poised to become king herself. An ancient war is inching toward a deadly peak, but despite Bree’s determination to fight, the Order’s Regents won’t let her, to preserve the Legendborn cycle. Meanwhile, Nick has been kidnapped, and with the Order opting for a cover-up, Bree and her friends must find Nick themselves.
Something I loved about Legendborn was learning about the systems of magic at play, Bree’s lineage, and the hierarchies of the Order. Now that Deonn has established that world at large, Bloodmarked gives her the chance to explore the deeper complexities of it all. No system of power comes without its fair share of flaws (and even corruption), something Deonn illustrates as she fleshes out the Order. It’s easy to be shocked by the Regents’ actions, their decision to cover up a massive war and internal betrayals, because in the moment, it is shocking. But as readers see deeper into the centuries long way of being for the Order, it’s largely Deonn drawing out what’s always been there; a legacy created from violence in the name of power.
When readers catch back up with Bree, she struggles to control her power, both the root magic she inherited from her ancestor Vera’s line as well as the magic that comes from Arthur. Where she was largely learning about the Order in book 1, this time she begins to feel the burden of it all. Bree carries generations of trauma in her veins, and the heaviness of believing she failed her ancestors. The isolation she feels becomes more prominent (figuratively and literally) as others around her remind her that she doesn’t “look” the part of a king. As with book 1, how others perceive Bree’s Blackness remains (and always will) an integral part of how she and they navigate the world. But Deonn refuses to let Bree carry that alone; she continues to find others like her in many ways, who take care of her in the exact way she needs. Bree is a powerful character, and she soon finds that empowerment for herself.
Deonn established herself as a powerhouse with Legendborn, and she only gets better with Bloodmarked. Like book 1, this sequel is imbued with rich mythology and history, brimming with emotion and heart-pounding action, and a rollercoaster of jaw-dropping reveals. If you aren’t (as the kids say) screaming, crying, or throwing up while reading, you aren’t paying attention. Deonn’s storytelling is just as, if not more, immersive this time around. Her “low and slow” approach ensures that readers and the story don’t get lost in unnecessary info dumps. Everything – every reveal, every piece of information, every character, EVERYTHING – is thoughtful and deliberate. It’s as painful as it is healing, and Deonn gives her readers a special empowerment that will linger deep and long after reading. I’m sure I speak for many readers when I say that book 3 can’t come soon enough.