Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 525
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Review Copy: Purchased
Availability: Available Now

Summary: 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 Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

Review: Tomi Adeyemi’s debut fantasy novel is Black Girl Magic – literally. Zélie is a beautiful Black girl who is finally able to tap into her magic and is goes on a journey to bring magic back to her country. Children of Blood and Bone is the Hero’s Journey novel with a Black protagonist, no with Black people and an Afrocentric bent, that I’ve been waiting for. This was another one of those reads where I had planned to read slowly over the course of a few days, but basically ended up staying up to the wee hours of the night, sleeping for a few hours, then finishing it before I did anything the next morning. I was so into Zélie ’s journey and that of Prince Inan that I couldn’t put the book down.

Based on the summary, I thought the novel would be told from just Zélie ’s POV, but in actuality it was from three different POV’s and I really loved it. Of course, since Zélie is the main protagonist we are with her more in the story, but we also get to be with Amari and Inan, the royal princess and prince of Orïsha. Amari and Zélie travel together while Inan chases them down. While Inan is the antagonist of the novel, I feel he is more of a foil to Zélie as he goes on a similar journey of the self as well. He and Zélie end up having a unique connection which created a wonderful connection that brought a unique tension to the story, forcing the two enemies to get to know each other. Their budding relationship was so compelling as I felt both had equal weight in the determination of whether magic would return to Orïsha based on their personal experiences with magic. The push and pull between them was more than just attraction as they also had a difference in beliefs and challenged each other. Despite Inan being a prince and Zélie being a resident of Orïsha, in their interactions they treated each other as equals, respecting each other’s agency and power. I also felt the same with Amari and Zélie ’s relationship, though their friendship did begin rocky, they eventually learn to trust and love each other and become like sisters. Zélie pushed Amari to become more than she ever thought she could be and Amari gave Zélie the support she needed as Zélie learned to harness and control her powers. Amari is the friend that every girl needs – the one that will fight for you if needed. I love their relationship and feel it’s a wonderful portrayal of the sisterhood that can be achieved between girls.

I would be a horrible reviewer if I did not point out the terrific world building Adeyemi created for Children of Blood and Bone. Adeyemi uses the Orisha gods and goddesses as the basis for the mythology and magic that is Zélie ’s world. Each of the gods and goddesses are revered by specific maji clans whose powers are a gift from the gods but also represent what each earthly element the god represents. I found this aspect of the novel fascinating and would love to know more about what life was like before all the maji were killed, but the wonderful part of the book is that I know the journey Zélie is on will be a rebuilding of that world (to a certain extent). As Zélie goes on her journey the world of Orïsha comes to life, my favorite being the temple at Chandomble, a former community of maji who were massacred by the king, but one persons survived. The way Adeyemi describes the buildings, the lifestyle of the community really bring home how cruel the king was and brings home the magnitude of the loss of the maji. I could imagine this beautiful temple that had a thriving community full of families living in buildings filled with amazing murals everywhere of the gods and goddesses. It was details such as these that transported me to Orisha that I wish I could really go there. So many beautiful descriptions of the people, the land, the culture made me feel with Zélie and her fight to have her world righted again.

Like I said earlier, I couldn’t put Children of Blood and Bone down. I was so captivated by the world Adeyemi created, captured by Zélie, Amari, and Inan’s stories & their growth, and the magic that Adeyemi created, that I was sad when I finished the book. I wasn’t quite ready to leave Zélie’s world just yet, but I’m anxiously awaiting the sequel. Go get this book, you won’t be disappointed.