Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: relationships, isolation, death, miscarriages, kidnapping.
Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
I hardly ever choose a book by it’s cover, but when I saw The Children of Blood and Bone pop up all over the book community, I thought it was absolutely gorgeous and I immediately put it on my to read list. After the reviews started coming out, I felt confident that I was going to love the story just as much as I loved the cover.
In the 525 page novel, our feisty heroine Zélie introduces us to her world in Orïsha, a land that was once filled with magical people known as maji. These maji had abilities descended from the gods, gifts that would could allow them to move the elements, read emotions and see the future, or in Zélie’s mother’s case, recall the souls of the dead. Once a powerful Reaper, Zélie’s mother was killed in a dark time known as the Raid, where King Saran set out to destroy all magic and the maji who possessed it. Since then, those of maji descent known as divîners, easily identified by their shocking locks of silver-white hair, became targets of oppression by the King and his guards. Absurd taxes, forced hard labor, and death without cause forced apart families and left many struggling to survive under King Saran’s reign.
Despite the overwhelming sadness in Zélie’s young life, she is determined to fight the injustice. When her father is almost killed, Zélie and her brother Tzain set out to gain enough money to support their family while their father recuperates. As Zélie is leaving the palace city, a young woman begs her to help her escape the guards. Thus starts an even bigger journey, in which Zélie, Tzain, and the young woman are on the run from the king’s guards. Soon it is revealed that the young woman is the king’s daughter, Princess Amari, and that she has escaped with a powerful ancient scroll that can help awaken the magic in divîners. In disbelief, Zélie touches the scroll and her powers course through her blood, and she learns that just like her mother, she has become a Reaper.
As the three set out on a journey to bring magic back to all that it was stolen from, they are trailed by Amari’s brother, Prince Inan, who is determined to destroy the scroll and Zélie, carrying out his father’s wishes. Inan knows he must put Orïsha before himself, but he can’t help but struggle with concern; what would happen if he is unsuccessful? What will his father do to Amari?
As Adeyemi’s debut novel, I was blown away by the futuristic fantasy she created. Her characters are strong, the plot was action packed and quick paced, and I had a hard time predicting the ending, which is a plus for me. On the downside, I did have issues with redundancy in the story line, and I didn’t care for the love tropes that occurred, though that was a twist I didn’t expect. I also disliked the cliffhanger epilogue- I felt like I had come 525 pages to still not know if the trio’s mission was accomplished or not. And I have to say, as much as I love the artistry in the map, it confused me more than assisted me in tracking the journey to the Holy Temple. On the upside, I enjoyed the dialogue between the characters, and loved the backstories on the gods and the maji powers. I also have decided Zélie has made it to my list of favorite heroines.
(Photo: Google Images)
Overall, if someone wanted a YA fantasy recommendation, or an example of a strong female lead character, or a novel that parallels with a discussion on the Black Lives Matter movement, I would tell them to check out Children of Blood and Bone. However, I’ve had a lot of mixed emotions about it while reading and felt that it had areas that could use improvement in order to bump it up a star or two. This makes me a little sad because the hype around this book is just buzzing, and it has been received so well. Still, I’ll give Adeyemi another chance with her sequel Children of Virtue and Vengeance (expected pub date December 2019).
Published: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Henry Hold Books for Young Readers
TL/DR: Children of Blood and Bone is a debut fantasy novel from Tomi Adeyemi about a young woman with magical roots and powers, who rises against the oppressive regime in order to save and restore the gift of magic.
Read it? Yes, it’s got excellent world-building, strong characters, and a great pace.
Recommend it? Yes, to certain readers who wanted a YA fantasy recommendation, or an example of a strong female lead character, or a novel that parallels with a discussion on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Buy it? Since this is a planned series, I would recommend borrowing first, then buying if you decide to commit to reading the whole series.
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee