Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.
Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath.
With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.
It absolutely breaks my heart to say this, because Children of Blood and Bone is one of the best YA fantasies I’ve ever read (EVER), and I pre-ordered this book like sixth months ago, but… Children of Virtue and Vengeance suffers a bit from the second book slump.
Like with many trilogies, the real problem here is that the conflict did not move forward in any way. By the end of the first book Adeyemi had pretty well set up the war, the characters, and which side everyone was going to be on. There was a nice everybody-is-wrong-how-on-earth-will-this-resolve thing well established. So without moving on to the final climax, this book really had no where to go. While things happened, and this book has a lot going on, very little of that happening drove the overall arc of the story forward.
The fascinating magic system Adeyemi developed also suffered in this book. In a constant attempt by each side to out-magic the other, the boundaries of what magi were supposedly able to do per the last book were frequently ignored. Bigger and bigger feats of power were performed, all the while with characters acknowledging how impossible it was, and then going on to do impossible magic themselves. I understand that Adeyemi wanted to create a new magic system, but I felt like the magic in book one made more sense, was more interesting, and overall worked better.
The characters suffered, too. Inan, in particular, was completely insufferable to me. In the first book he was such a conflicted character, but in this one he was basically unable to stand by his convictions for more than two seconds, which was infuriating. Amari also turned into someone completely different, and it all came kind of out of nowhere. Everyone was more one-dimensional, and their one dimension seemed to all be blood-lust and revenge. I felt like all the characters were more nuanced in the first book.
Finally, this was the least interesting love triangle in history. I was so … bleh about Roen.
Okay, wow, that was a hefty bit of criticism. Don’t get me wrong, this was still an entertaining book. I can’t wait to see how everything resolves, and I will definitely be reading the final book in the series. I am still completely invested in the world and in the characters. I just don’t think this was as strong as Adeyemi’s debut novel. If you were a fan of Children of Blood and Bone, you definitely still need to read this one. If you haven’t gotten on the Orisha train yet, what are you waiting for?