Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Publisher: Henry Holt Books
Page Count: 525
Publication Date: 2018
Category/Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Good Reads Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.2)
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.0)
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
I ran through this book in only about 2 sittings worth of time. .The pacing was well done, – it was action-packed, and a fast-paced adventure. I was immediately pulled into the vibrant feel of the book. Contrary to a world heavy-handed in oppression, it felt alive and brimming with life.
The world building was fantastic. Adeyemi did a great job building the world as you go instead of overwhelming you with details and nuances upfront that other authors have done which tends to detract from my enjoyment of exploring the world as the book progresses. Combined with a fantastic magic system threw me into a whole new realm from any that I had experienced before.
The West-African inspired heritage and Yoruba mythology were perfectly interwoven throughout the story. Although I have seen some criticism saying the Nigerian representation is flawed from an outsider standpoint it served to pique my interest in the culture and history, as well as introducing me into folklore I had never had the pleasure of knowing before.
Children of Blood and Bone is told from three alternating perspectives – Zélie, the main protagonist, Princess Amari, Zélie and Amara’s brother, Inan. In my opinion, these are all complex characters who naturally change and grow as their journey and experience progress. As we are privy to their intriguing internal journeys we begin to understand that the process of change is difficult and breaking free of our invisible chains is not so easy. Challenges and obstacles can often make one’s resolve crumble and confidence and self-doubt will creep in and find a way to unsettle willpower. The dubious morality and gray areas in terms of good and bad can often be cloudy and fluid, ever-changing based on new information or circumstance.
The budding romance that takes place was slightly questionable to me. Here we have a character that is so ingrained in his belief system fall so quickly for a perceived ‘enemy’ seemed a bit unrealistic. However, considering his own sister was also able to see things differently leads me to believe that both the siblings hadn’t fully bought into what they were taught. I think perhaps it was a piece that Ademi felt was necessary to highlight the process of change in a person and also what happens with misunderstanding and quickly can call back on old believes of ideas in our core.
“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back.”
What I loved the most however was that the book was intense and steeped in darker themes – slavery, genocide, racism/racial tensions, oppression, exploitations of social power as well as the prejudice and structural inequalities, privilege and police brutality. These are subject matters that resonate with current events and impact our culture and society even now. For me, when a book can successfully balance between enjoyment and posing tough political and ethical concerns I am elated.
I felt it was gorgeous and explosive and highly recommend it to fantasy readers looking for strong female characters and an introduction to some beautiful mythology.