My teen self would have loved Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, which is one of those books that I wish had been around when I was younger. First in a modern Arthurian series, Legendborn tells the story of Bree Matthews, an African-American teen who attends UNC-Chapel Hill’s “early college” program after losing her mother. After witnessing a magical attack on her first night of school, Bree learns about the Legendborn, a secret society of students descended from Arthurian knights and tasked with guarding the world against magical incursions. Magic, mystery, and romance abound as Bree tries her hand at being a member of the Legendborn in order to uncover the truth about her mother’s death. But Legendborn is also a high-stakes tale of fantasy that takes a close and uncompromising look at structural racism in both the genre’s history and society.
It is true that Deonn has crafted a story unlike anything else out there, but those looking for books like Legendborn have plenty of options to keep them occupied while they await the sequel. Check out these Arthurian-themed, determined teen heroine, or mythologically-connected books for fans of Legendborn.
A Universe of Wishes Edited by Dhonielle Clayton
We Need Diverse Books has put together a fantastic collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories that take place in a variety of universes. The stories in A Universe of Wishes include those by Samira Ahmed, Mark Oshiro, Kwame Mbalia, and Zoraida Córdova, as well as others by such authors as Samira Ahmed, Mark Oshiro, and Kwame Mbalia.
The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
Most people believe that Princess Guinevere has arrived in Camelot to marry the young King Arthur. The king of Camelot is under attack from within and without, and the wizard Merlin has dispatched Guinevere, a changeling with a false name and a fictitious past, to protect him. An intriguing twist on the Arthurian legend, The Guinevere Deception, is an excellent read for fans of Legendborn.
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
The Gilded Ones is a must-read for fans of strong, complex female protagonists. Religiously-motivated misogyny and violence are examined in this dystopian fantasy novel, along with the resiliency of young women who are targeted. In order to prove her purity at the age of 16, Deka must be bled – but when her blood runs gold instead of red, she discovers that she is an Alaki, a being with supernatural strength and powers that are considered demonic by the intolerant society she lives in. Deka is saved from her village’s persecution, but she is still in danger when she joins a group of Alaki super-soldiers in the kingdom’s capital.
Avalon High by Meg Cabot
In Avalon High, Meg Cabot takes a different approach to high school drama and royalty than she did in her best-known series, The Princess Diaries. Ellie, a new student at the school’s eponymous boarding school, begins to suspect that she and her peers are following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as King Arthur, which could spell doom for them all.
Once and Future by A.R. Capetta and Cori McCarthy
As a teenage girl refugee in space, King Arthur takes on corporate and colonial oppression, which is one of the best book concepts I’ve ever seen. While on the run from an evil corporation, Ari Helix meets Merlin the wizard. Despite the fact that he’s now a teenager, Merlin’s mission remains the same: to help this new Arthur defeat evil and bring peace and harmony to the universe.
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
Legendborn is heavily influenced by Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, which began in the 1960s but is still relevant today. On vacation with their parents and their great-uncle Merriman Lyon in Cornwall is the first installment of Over Sea, Under Stone. In the course of their journey to find the Holy Grail, the children come across an old manuscript.
The Wicker King by K. Ancrum
Wicker King is an intriguing but difficult read that explores the boundaries between fantasy, daydream, and mental illness. Friendliest of mates Throughout their childhood, August and Jack have built a fantastical world of their own, but August is beginning to notice that Jack is losing his ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. If they complete the quest in their fantasy world, August believes Jack can be saved, but both boys may be destroyed in the process.
Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones
She has a reputation as a master of children’s fantasy, but Hexwood is one of her strangest and darkest works to date. Hexwood Farm Estate is haunted by eerie activity, and a teenage girl named Ann Stavely begins to hear voices. It turns out that Earth has drawn the Reigners’ attention, a powerful race with Arthurian origins that controls the entire cosmos, as Ann sets out to solve the mystery.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
When it comes to dealing with issues like secret societies, institutionalized racism, and white privilege, Ace of Spades doesn’t hold back. Devon and Chiamaka, the only two black students at a prestigious private school, decide to fight back against a racist conspiracy that has targeted them.
The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill
It is up to Thirrin, a warrior princess of the remote Northern kingdom of the Icemark, who must fight to save her people from destruction. Being friends with a young warlock and a sentient leopard, Thirrin is like an Arthurian/Meridien hybrid. She makes an excellent heroine for younger readers.
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
With magical powers to control plants, Briseis is a fascinating new heroine in this new novel by the author of Cinderella Is Dead. The interplay between the real world and the magical underworld, as well as the story’s focus on hidden family histories, will appeal to Legendborn fans.
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Pratchett used chapters when writing for children, so The Wee Free Men is technically one of his children’s books (the only difference was that he used chapters when writing for kids). After losing her grandmother, Tiffany is a young girl living on the Chalk who dreams of becoming a witch. However, her family and home are under attack from the evil Queen of the Elves. To save her younger brother and her world from the fairy folk, Tiffany is armed with a frying pan and the support of the Nac Mac Feegles.
Hollow Pike by Juno Dawson
In rural England, Juno Dawson’s dark fantasy novel features witches, magic, and murder. A new beginning has begun for Lis after she recently relocated to the countryside, but she is being plagued by disturbing dreams. Part fantasy, part horror, part suspense novel, Hollow Pike will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page.
Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
Lost in the Never Woods is a contemporary retelling of Peter Pan, a story that has influenced generations of children and adults alike. Second novel from Cemetery Boys author Aiden Thomas tells of Wendy, a young woman whose town has been plagued by the disappearances of children for years..
Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard
Oh My Gods is a funny fantasy tale based on Greek mythology rather than Celtic legend, in which Helen, a young half-mortal, half-god, moves in with her Greek god father and older siblings. Helen has a lot on her plate, what with school, friends, and a crush on one of her classmates, not to mention the chaos that comes with living with ancient gods.
Fantasy and contemporary, myth and high school drama have always found a home in YA, and while Legendborn is an original retelling of the Arthurian legend, there are others like it. You can also check out Book Riot’s TBR service, where our resident bibliologists will help you find the perfect book for you to read next..
Check out our list of 15 Fantasy Books Similar to Throne of Glass if you’re looking for more ideas. If you’re a fan of the portal fantasy genre, check out our list of the 50+ Must-Read Portal Fantasy Books.