★★★★ 4.5 Stars
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Romance
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018
“All around me were pieces of his body, scattered like breadcrumbs. I shielded my eyes with my hands, until I bumped into something else. With another scream, I whipped around only to find myself faced with an oak tree covered in dried blood and claw marks.
My vision darkened and I prayed I wouldn’t faint, that I wouldn’t be stuck in the woods. Because somewhere out here, a monster lurked. If I didn’t believe it before, I did now. The Beast was real.”
A fairytale whispered like a sacred curse into the dark, whose pages are rimmed in fangs and roses. Tread carefully under the influence of its spell, for these words wear their thorns like diamonds stained with sweet blood – enchanting in its romance but when it reels you in, reveals the gruesome remains just beneath.
Legend of Me is the tale of Brielle Healer, a good witch’s granddaughter who suffers gore-drenched premonitions when an ancient monster begins, once again, to terrorize her village. Brielle, in her determination to figure out the secret of what this creature is, also finds herself under the charms of two who are also on the hunt for the monster. A love-laced mystery that artfully blends several Grimm archetypes – the innocent maid who faces the beast, the handsome but unreadable knight whose moral face may disappear when the time comes, and the wandering scoundrel with a heart of gold.
In honest fairytale fashion, Legend doesn’t hide its morbid underside, but this is a positive. The brutality and horror radiating from the unknown beast, even before it’s shown is palpable and real. The story has an intense pacing that roots a dark curiosity into your mind, even when the focus is on Brielle, Lord Kenrick, and Raul’s drama of hearts.
While not a retelling, the story carries strong silhouettes of Red Riding Hood, evidenced in its themes of a young girl trying to outwit a strong, menacing being, and its overarching symbolism of red blood. Seemingly indestructible monsters throughout the history of fables have stood for danger of the unknown, as well as the dangers of predators lurking unseen in untamed nature, ever more of a threat when they encroach upon civilization. Or perhaps, they were already immersed in civilization to begin but have only just decided to show their true skin…
Parts, especially the competitiveness between Brielle and the spoiled Sarah Weaver, also reminded me vaguely of Mother Holle.
The characterization is pretty well-done. Brielle and her Gram in particular are strong characters. Brielle is believable and likeable, without too many of the frustrating habits that tend be a common bind of YA heroines. Love interests Lord Kenrick and the gypsy Raul have unexpected facets to their personalities, and I also liked Rhyne. Some other characters could have had more depth, notably Sarah Weaver, who seems to be composed of only petty envy with zero sympathy.
Legend of Me will appeal to both the traditional fairytale addict and the fantasy romance reader for its descriptive and intriguing nature.
Plot – 4.5/5
Writing / Pacing – 5/5
Characters – 4/5
General – 4.5/5
[I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Please note that this is a review on the advance copy – the finalized version you’ll see in stores may have a different cover or slight edited changes from this version.]