Hey everyone, and welcome back to the blog! Today I am going to be reviewing one of my most anticipated books of the year. If you have been reading my rambles on here, you will know that I submitted my dissertation for university early in May, and as a reward, I had this book saved aside to dive into.
So without further ado, let’s begin, and fair warning, there may be spoilers.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi was published in March 2018 by Macmillan Children’s Books. This is the first book in the YA fantasy series, Legacy of Orïsha, that tackles the heavy themes of the class systems and prejudice, against the backdrop of a fantastical West-African setting.
Seventeen year old Zélie remembers when her lands were alive with magic and the air was filled with prayers to the Gods and Goddesses. She remembers her Reaper mother, summoning and aiding souls. She remembers when a ruthless king ordered that those with magic should die – including Zélie’s mother. Now, magic has gone, and those who may have been able to use it must remain hidden. Until the rogue princess Amari flees the palace, with a secret. That magic can be brought back. Zélie, Amari, and Tzain (Zelie’s brother) must find a way to bring magic back, whilst Zélie learns to control the dangerous powers that she has inside of her. Hot on their tail though is the crown prince and Amari’s brother, Inan, determined to bring magic down and squash it for good. Although danger lurks around every corner, Zélie must learn to control her magic, and also the feelings she is experiencing for a man who is her enemy.
This was a novel that I could not put down. It is a glorious paperback, with a stunning cover that I just like to stare at in wonder. My copy, as a Waterstones exclusive, has red edges too, so it just makes it all the more pretty. I had heard many good things about this novel, and I feel so pleased that I had picked this up. I was completely sucked into the world of Orïsha – the lands were dangerous, yet familiar, and the people were the most interesting. The concept of myths and legends, Gods and Goddesses, was well written, and I feel quite informed about the different deities now. The downtrodden poor and kosidáns (those unable to do magic), the hidden divîners and maji (those able to wield magic) contrasted with the rich guards, and the nobility, and it is almost reflective of the prejudices we see in society today… Tomi Adeyemi has a wonderful writing style – it flows and each character perspective was unique. There were three perspectives at work – Zélie, Amari and Inan. These were able to be differentiated so well, which is a fear I have in multiple perspective novels, and is often why I don’t enjoy them as much. These three characters were powerhouses – Zélie was instantly likeable, with her grit and determination, and the love she has for her family and culture. There are later scenes where Zélie’s white hair (a trademark of the maji people) becomes wild, and she makes no effort to hide or change it, as she feels that connection to her mother and the Gods and Goddesses they used to worship. This is in deep contrast to her dark skin colour, which is never described in a derogatory way – being black or a person of colour is beautiful, just as in reality! Zélie is also not afraid to show her emotions. She is a strong character, but has weaknesses, and understands the road she is travelling is going to be tough, and that she has put everyone she loves in danger. She contrasts nicely to Amari, who came from a privileged palace life, although she has undergone hardships from both parents – her father instilled a drive to fight in her, whilst her mother constantly niggles at her about her weight. If this means the princess is curvy or plus-sized, I say bring it on – being a fuller figure woman myself! Amari initially comes across naive and unwilling to change, holding onto the memory of her divîner maid and friend, yet it is her journey of self-discovery which is beautiful to see unfurl. Inan, on the other hand, is a man who has always been told to put duty before anything else, and when he experiences strange unnatural magic, he is presented with dilemmas, and often starts to see the failings in his father’s cruel logic. The King’s cruel logic is not logic though – it is fear of the unknown, and that one bad thing can cause chaos to occur. It is a prejudice against those who are different, something that Tomi Adeyemi has candidly spoken about in interviews, and the importance of having heroes and heroines of colour at the forefront of literature, where readers may see themselves in there. At just over 500 pages, it is a chunky novel, but it honestly doesn’t feel it. You fly through the chapters, devouring the book, because you have a need to see what happens next – who will they meet? What danger is next? Will magic return? What amazing animal will we meet? This was a joy to read – gone are the days of riding horseback in fantasy novels. I petition we should all ride magical big cats – even if they have horns!
Tomi Adeyemi has plans to continue with the series, and it is rumoured to be a trilogy. The second book in the series, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, has plans to be released in 2019. Children of Blood and Bone has also be optioned for film. I honestly can’t wait!
You can purchase Children of Blood and Bone from most bookstores, including online, in both Kindle or paperback editions. You can also preorder Children of Virtue and Vengeance now.
In the spirit of magic, I decided to complete the Maji Clan Quiz, which is going to tell me which Maji Clan I belong to in this universe. If you want to take the quiz, click here, and if you want to know more about the clans, then you’ll have to read the book.
So that completes my review of Children of Blood and Bone. I hope that you enjoyed this review, and I’m sure I’ll be back with a new one soon!