Claire Legrand’s latest novel Furyborn is one of the most anticipated YA fantasy releases of 2018. Set in a world rich with magic and mythology, Furyborn is the story of two young women who live centuries apart, whose roles in an ancient prophecy about two queens could leave the world in ruins—or be humanity’s salvation.
I read all 400+ pages of my Advance Reader’s Copy in two days. When I wasn’t reading, I was obsessing over the plot, the characters, their choices, and hypothesizing about what would happen next. Legrand’s writing doesn’t just pull you in—it yanks you by your lapels and drags you deeper. The two protagonists, Rielle and Eliana, are fierce, morally-grey characters that I can’t help but love.
Rielle lives in the kingdom of Celdaria at a time when magic thrives and people worship freely at temples—a time when people still remember the old wars between humans and the angels. Rielle, daughter of the Lord Commander of the king’s soldiers, has been raised sequestered in a temple, taught to suppress her ability to control not one element like every other magic user, but every element. She is willing to do whatever it takes to prove to her father and the Grand Magister, Tal, who helps hide her away, that she should be free to live her life as she chooses.
Of course, her plan fails miserably, launching Rielle into a perilous series of trials that will forever change the course of her life, and the world around her.
Eliana is my favorite character. She lives approximately 1000 years later in the country of Ventera. The world is much changed now, and most continents have been claimed by a ruler known as The Emperor. Magic, the beasts of old, and angels are all long considered children’s tales. Known as the Dread of Orline, Eliana is a bounty hunter who takes out members of the Red Crown, a rebel group that seeks to liberate the land from the Emperor.
Ever since she was born, Eliana has possessed the uncanny ability to heal rapidly from incredible levels of pain and injury. It’s a skill that comes in handy for someone who makes a living by doling out death. Eliana’s motivation throughout the book is simple: keep her family safe and alive, at any cost. When her mother disappears without a trace, Eliana is forced to ally herself with the very people she was working to eliminate, and she begins to learn the terrible truth of the Emperor’s rule and her own strange abilities.
The novel is structured so that every chapter switches between Eliana and Rielle’s points of view. Eliana and Rielle are engaging characters, and their stories are woven so powerfully together that I never found myself frustrated by the changes in point of view every chapter. Legrand writes in such a way that Rielle’s story gives context for Eliana’s, while still making Rielle’s journey feel new and urgent.
I’ll admit that when I first began reading, it was a little difficult to keep track of who lived where and when. Thankfully, I quickly adapted, due to Legrand’s ability to create distinct atmospheres and settings. Eliana’s Ventera feels shadowed and fraught, while Rielle’s Celdaria is more of a blue sky with storm clouds at the horizon. Legrand’s use of worldbuilding is excellent. She seamlessly incorporates religious, cultural, historical, and political elements into two different timelines, in two different countries. Most importantly, Legrand gives us these details through the eyes of her characters; as a result, the world feels encompassing without being overwhelming. I can’t wait to dive deeper into this world in the next two books, because I was left with a lot of questions that I am very eager to have answered (Like the angels, for example. What’s their deal!? I really want more on them in the next two books).
This book explores urgent and compelling issues that are relevant to today’s world and political climate. There has recently been an outcry for the need for more female characters who are morally grey. Legrand definitely answered the call. Eliana is a badass who takes pleasure in her skill with killing. She sleeps around with men and women (I was so happy to see queer representation in this book!!), and it’s no big deal. She represses her conscious so she can do what she feels she has to do to survive. She’s messy and flawed and I love her for it. Rielle is fierce and flawed too. She’s spent her entire life in a metaphorical cage, taught to feel shame for her incredible abilities, and once she is finally given space to grow, she blazes. This book has so much to say about the damage of repression and shame, and the magic of embracing who you really are.
Legrand subverts quite a few common tropes in YA, including the love triangle, which I found to be very satisfying. She also subverts expectations about gender. Besides presenting multiple female characters who are anything but timid, she subverts expectations of masculinity with Eliana’s little brother, Remy, who is in touch with his emotions and certainly not the fighting sort. You could even argue that Legrand problematizes the patriarchy through her characterization of many of the male figures who hold positions power, most visibly in Rielle’s timeline.
There’s so much more I could say about this epic of a book, but I think I’ll leave off there, so you can get lost in Rielle and Eliana’s story for yourself.
Furyborn will be published on May 22 by Sourcebooks and is available to preorder at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Writer, reviewer, bookseller, book nerd extraordinaire. Fiction reader at Waxwing Magazine.