Synopsis: “Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and 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 Zélia herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.”
This book was A M A Z I N G. The hype is REAL. Why? The author graduated from Harvard with an honors in English Lit. She was given a fellowship to study West-African mythology. This author knows her stuff. At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to read this book because I wanted to wait for reviews until a few months later. Then I went to see Black Panther and I just needed more Afro-inspired stories. Reading Children of Blood and Bone took me right back.
“In the beginning, our Sky Mother created the heavens and the earth, bringing life to the vast darkness. On earth, Sky Mother created humans, her children of blood and bone.”
In Children of Blood and Bone, we have the POV of three characters: Zélie, Amari, and Inan. Tomi Adeyemi effortlessly carries you through the story. I felt like I was flying while reading this book. From page one, I was immediately captivated. It didn’t take long for me to become absorbed into this world. The author doesn’t waste time trying to explain every detail of this world. She shows, not tells. The author relies more on action than in-depth explanations, so the reader is engaged with the story and characters immediately.
“Before today, magic didn’t have a face. Not beyond beggars’ tales and hushed undertones of servant’s stories.”
I cannot begin to summarize the dozens of things that happen, but in a vision Mama Agba sees Zélie, Tzain, and Amari on a journey together and it’s realized that they must reach a temple. Once they reach this temple they meet Lekah, who tells the group that they must have all three artifacts (the scroll, the sunstone, and a dagger) in order to perform a ritual that will bring magic back to Orisha. Zélie learns what the gods have destined for her and a series of events occur that change her life forever.
The world of Orisha is so captivating. From the different cities/towns to the history and from the origin stories to the gods/goddesses—Tomi knows how to do world building. Furthermore, you may have Avatar: The Last Airbender vibes while reading this. After watching MCU’s Black Panther, I had to read something similar. While Black Panther focuses on Afro-futurism, Children of Blood and Bone focuses on ancient magic and folklore. Black Panther definitely had scenes in which magic was used, thus bridging the gap between magic and science. It’s not difficult to see the similarities between the two Afro-inspired stories
“We are children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue.”
Tomi Adeyemi does exactly everything I need to absolutely love a fantasy book. She includes important and telling dialogue. She doesn’t keep us inside the character’s stream of consciousness the whole time. She doesn’t keep the character’s in the same place. They are constantly in motion, therefore, the story stays in motion. They actually travel within the world that the author created. A lot of YA fantasy keeps their characters in one single place which makes me SNOOZE.
“I won’t let your father get away with what he’s done. I won’t let your ignorance silence my pain.”
Another thing I love about the author’s story were the relationships. I enjoyed how the female friendship developed. I also enjoyed seeing an actual sibling relationship. There is definitely a hate-to-love thing that happens and one insta-love pairing. I’m not sure how I feel about the romance. One of the things I liked about the Harry Potter series is that there was a guy-guy-girl friendship without it becoming a love triangle. J.K. Rowling didn’t immediately pair them off. It wasn’t until they were much older that Hermione and Ron actually develop something. As far as romance goes in this story, I would have preferred if the characters were all “just friends” a little longer.
(Warning: The character summaries may contain mild spoilers)
Zélie Adebola, A maji: Zélie reminds me SO much like Arya Stark. She’s ill-tempered, hot-headed, impatient, and is who she is due to a parent dying at a young age. The gods have “chosen” her to save magic. While Zélie is the “chosen one”, she is still flawed. You can tell she really cares, but at the same time shuts people out and trusts few. It was not hard to get attached to Zélie because the author does an excellent job at giving her a character goal and desire that is easy to relate to.
“Nice to see a day of impending death hasn’t dampened your spirits.”
Tzain Adebola, Brother to Zélie: We don’t have Tzain’s POV, but he has an important role in the story. He is protective of his sister and cares deeply about his family. Unfortunately, at one point Tzain indirectly implies that Zélie is acting like a whore. I am NOT going to count this scene against the author and bring out pitchforks over it. It just made me dislike Tzain. He has some valid reasons to be angry, but it felt somewhat out of character for him to say that. I thought women in this world were more respected then that. Let me say this AGAIN: This scene did not take away from my experience. I just thought it was worth noting.
“I could screw everything up for the remainder of his days, yet Tzain would still die trying to keep me safe.”
Amari, Princess of Lagos: She is a rogue princess who witnesses her best friend/servant die simply because she is a maji. On impulse, she escapes her castle to save magic. I do wish I understood why since she would have also been indoctrinated by her father to hate magic. Her call to action occurs after her friend is murdered, but I can’t imagine how everything would have stayed the same otherwise if she had not witnessed something so tragic. She may not have known exactly how horrible her father was. Amari seems timid at first, but she truly surprised me. She doesn’t have the overt strength that Zélie has. Hers is a quiet strength, which I love because I’m probably more of an Amari than a Zélie.
“I see the seeds of a warrior.”
Inan, Prince of Lagos: I don’t know why we have Inan’s POV when he ultimately doesn’t change. You can see how conflicted is throughout the story. Duty before self is the mantra Inan abides by. On the orders of his father, the King, he must hunt down his sister and Zélie and kill magic no matter what the cost. I can’t go into too much detail, but I do like that Inan is an example of the kind of character who doesn’t just change overnight. This character definitely struggles with a lot, which made his character more layered. There’s plenty Inan does that I don’t agree with it, but his flaws make him more believable.
“Duty before self .”
Roen: He doesn’t show up until the second half of the story, but he plays an important role later on. He is one of my favorite characters because of his witty banter, surprising skill set, and isn’t so serious all the dang time. This character will make you laugh. I can’t wait to read more about him in the sequel.
“It’s not belief, love, it’s insurance.”
Okay, so the ending has a lot of people shook but I kind of both assumed and wondered about the situation surrounding the ending. There was nothing that indicated that it was out of the realm of possibility. I can’t say more than that. I just think it’s super cool and I can’t wait to be with these characters again! What actually made me cry was the Author’s Note at the very end.
I know people are skeptical when they see a book get so many rave reviews, but I have honestly tried to find major issues. Any issues I may have are minor and didn’t ruin my overall experience with this story. It would be nit-picking at this point. Children of Blood and Bone has the death count of A Game of Thrones (don’t get too attached), the camaraderie of Harry Potter, and the world-building of Lord of the Rings. There’s a mash up of all these elements, but still unlike anything I’ve read because there is no Euro-centric world here.
The underlying message of the Black Lives Matter movement exists within the story, a message of resistance to your oppressors. It even goes further than that because Tomi Adeyemi reminded us that when we mourn the characters who died, remember to mourn the mothers, fathers, and children taken away from their families due to police brutality in real life. The author talks about this in the Author’s Note and it resonated with me. Zélie, Amari, and Tzain are a symbol for bravery, courage, and the passion that we all need in order to rise.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Have you read Children of Blood and Bone yet? What did you think? If not, are you excited to read it? Who’s your favorite character, so far? I would love to hear your thoughts!