Better Than The First? A “Bloodmarked” Book Review

Better+Than+The+First%3F+A+%E2%80%9CBloodmarked%E2%80%9D+Book+Review

Solenn Vincent

“Bloodmarked” is the highly-anticipated sequel to Tracy Deonn’s thrilling fantasy novel “Legendborn.” The sequel was released Nov. 8, 2022. 

Here is a brief synopsis from GoodReads: 

“All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. Now, Bree has become someone new:

A Medium. A Bloodcrafter. A Scion.

But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.

Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected.

When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.

If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.”

I absolutely adored the first novel; the characters are strongly developed, the teenage voice was relatable and the plot was unique and well-written. I hoped that Deonn would continue her strong writing in the sequel. Here is my honest opinion.

The novel has a strong, promising start. Bree’s struggle to learn her new powers, protect her loved ones and find her missing boyfriend are a poignant struggle for her. 

The anticipation is high when an attack occurs just pages into the novel and new, intriguing characters are introduced. 

For romance enthusiasts, the love triangle between Bree, Nick, and his protector, Sel was a highlight of the debut novel. That tension is heightened between Bree’s loyalty and love for Nick and her growing feelings for Sel who is her ally in her search for Nick and against the Regents.

I liked that many returning characters were given a greater spotlight in “Bloodmarked.” Alice, Bree’s best friend, has a larger role in this book and underwent fantastic character development that made her one of my favorites. 

The novel is also much darker than the first one. There is a greater level of gore and violence as well as mentions of disturbing Southern history. 

Every chapter was a cliffhanger; I got through the novel quickly in three days. The amount of plot twists that utterly shocked me was definitely a highlight. The ending is a cliffhanger, just like the previous book, which is painful because the second book came out two years later… Who knows when book three will be released.

I also am a big fan of how Tracy Deonn portrays intergenerational trauma and creates a strong Black girl as the protagonist. Bestselling novels are lacking in representation recently.

I purchased the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition which comes with an additional short story. This excerpt was an extended version of chapter 51in the point of view of the three protagonists. I liked how it created a better backstory of the relationship between Sel and Nick and gave their perspectives as well since Bree is the narrator otherwise. 

However, I prefer “Legendborn” over its sequel. Sel is honestly more of a jerk than in the first book and I do not understand why people like him. Nick is hardly in the book. Bree is genuinely one of the only characters I continued liking in the sequel. I also disliked the fact that Arthur is evil in this version of Arthurian retellings. “Bloodmarked” also lacked the magical mysterious tone the first book had for me personally. 

I highly recommend the “Legendborn” series to young adult fantasy lovers.