Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Series: Legacy of Orisha
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Maturity Level: 4+
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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.
WOW. Children of Blood and Bone creates a fantasy universe unlike anything I’ve ever seen before while telling a story that feels as old as time. It was dark and gritty, but with a profound sense of purpose. I feel like this is the kind of book that could change the world.
Orisha is a West African-based kingdom featuring a brand of magic that is both familiar and completely unique. Children born with magic are distinguished by their white hair, which is especially striking against the dark skinned population. Children are gifted with a certain “branch” of magic: water, earth, life/death, you get the idea. Adeyemi breathed fresh life into this tried-and-true magic style, tying it to a tribal system and the gods, and I could not get enough of it. As much as I learned about the magic, I was dying to know more.
I adored the four main characters, and it is told from each of their points of view. Zelie feels like the protagonist, though she gets no more page time than the others, and at first glance seems to be the typical brash, strong female lead. However, there’s a brokenness, fear, and oppression in Zelie that even Katniss was unable to portray. Amari and Inan, the prince and princess, were full of surprises. Both of their characters had a TON of growth in a completely different direction than I expected them to go, which was super exciting. Tzain was a bit of a stereotypical protective older brother, but I liked him all the same.
There was one steamy romance that was both sudden and unexpected, but took my breath away. It was sexy without actually showing sex, and I think YA authors should all be taking notes.
But what I think made this book really shine was the powerful conflict between the magic users and the king. What I absolutely loved about this war was that both sides had abused their power through the course of modern history, and both groups had instigated the violence at turns. Even during the novel both sides are the cause of a lot of death and destruction. This is not a one-sided oppression, and the solution will not be simple. I am dying to see how Adeyemi is going to resolve this, because I can’t for the life of me find a good way toward peace! Everyone seems to be right!
And Children of Blood and Bone was just so poignant! The parallels between the palace guards and police brutality was not completely direct, but so clear. I admire how Adeyemi was able to discuss the very difficult topic of racism and violent oppression in a setting different enough from our own to make it safe. As safe as such topics can ever be, anyway.
Plus, that cliffhanger at the end! AHHHH!!!
If I had to offer up one criticism, though the world was completely unique, a lot of the plot and character elements were a little too familiar. Several details were vividly reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings and Throne of Glass. The good news is that this book was approximately 5,000,000% BETTER than Throne of Glass, but the similarities were too glaring for comfort.
Children of Blood and Bone is easily the best YA fantasy I’ve read. Ever. Usually I can’t be bothered to read a whole YA series, but I do not know how I am going to wait for the sequel!