If there was ever a perfect sequel to a book series, Tracy Deonn’s “Bloodmarked” is it. Deonn delivers all of her promises of the previous book in this heartbreaking action-packed adventure. “Bloodmarked,” released on Nov. 8, 2022, follows Bree as she navigates the ancient secret order of the round table. “Legendborn” introduced us to the strong-willed Bree as she grieves the death of her mother. The instant New York Times Bestseller for young adults hit number one.
When we last saw Bree, she has just been given the keys to a kingdom she never wanted and barely understands, but “Bloodmarked” goes much deeper into the inner workings of the round table Bree now sits as the head of. Where “Legendborn” focused on Bree’s grief of her mother and how she came to terms with it, “Bloodmarked” has Bree and her friends grieving the death of their friends in “Legendborn.” Bree additionally has to hold onto the grief of her ancestors through the gifts that her root craft gives her.
Black girl magic is the literal name of the game in this Arthurian retelling. Within the book, Bree is stuck between two worlds of magic and the narrative explores both. Rootcraft, the magic of asking to borrow power from one’s ancestors and bloodcraft, using the powers of one’s ancestors as their own. This book plays with the idea of power; who gets it, who already has it and how to use it responsibly. Very early in the book, we are introduced to the regents who rule over the Legendborn, characters who were alluded to in the previous books but were not encountered until now. Here we see the full reach of their power and how they use it.
Being a descendant of a slave, Bree is already wrapped with a lot of heavy feelings towards the world and how she looks at it. She sees that not everyone is going to treat her with the respect and kindness that she deserves, but hatred and animosity for the color of her skin. From “Legendborn” to “Bloodmarked,” racism is a recurring obstacle Bree is forced to face along her journeys. Some say that depictions of racism are not something that should be in the media, but clearly, Tracy Deonn thinks otherwise. Racism is what makes this book a little more believable and places it closer to our world. Despite how many people attempt to forget it, racism is a part of a lot of POC lives, so it seems right that Deonn decided to depict it in her works. Thanks to her blood-walking abilities, Bree doesn’t just have to deal with her own racist experiences — she also has to deal with those of her ancestors who came before her. This story will resonate especially well with those who have dealt with great grief in their life or have been the only BIPOC in a room full of non-BIPOC.
Scion of Arthur, blood-crafter and medium between all of these abilities, Bree carries a heavy burden that is made no easier by her ancestors. Because her bloodcraft abilities allow her to experience her ancestors’ lives through blood walking, Bree is forced to carry around their trauma as well as the trauma she has dealt with throughout her life. From the rape of her enslaved great-great grandmother Vera to the racism her grandmother Jessie experienced; all of these things culminate as something no one person should be forced to carry. Bree is made to bear the full force of this generational trauma. She goes through the book trying to figure out how to deal with it – eventually coming to terms with it on her own.
Bree has always been surrounded by people that love her whether it be her father or her best friend Alice Chen who stole readers’ hearts in “Legendborn.” Here she gets more time to shine as she and Bree go on this journey together along with the merlin, Sel, and the scion, William. They are all put in a position where they are forced to understand each other and build relationships in new ways. These four make up the main group and are the best part of the story. Their banter and conversations make even the worst situations better.
Verdict: Tracy Deonn has made another smash hit in the book world and we should all admit that. “Bloodmarked” is a must-read if you are a fan of young adult novels that feature a great cast and an amazing main character.