Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Series: Legacy of Orïsha #1
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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.
How to even begin reviewing this incredible book? Children of Blood and Bone wasn’t just gorgeous…. It was GLORIOUS. The immersive world is so full and vibrant, and the characters’ internal and external conflicts were explored with so deeply and realistically. I loved how thick it was and the large range of emotions it brought me: fear, anger, hatred, love, and justice. Y’all better pick this up for one for the most divine YA fantasy.
The book follows the legends and gods of Orïsha, a land that used to be scattered with different maji who could control the elements based on their god. But with this power came violence and rebellion, and eventually a small group of maji took their powers to try to reign over the people without magic. This led to the people without magical potential, or kosidán, to start their own hunt to get rid of maji. Eleven years ago, the maji lost their powers and could not defend themselves, leading to a huge massacre known as the Raid that left the maji dead and their children lost. Children of Blood and Bone follows the first person POV of several characters: Zélie, a divîner with the potential to become a maji if only the gods gave back magic; Inan, a conflicted prince who grew up listening to and learning his father’s prejudice against the magi; Amari, the princess that tries to help the divîners re-discover their hidden powers. The world is written so well, and there are numerous settings that make for an incredible journey for these characters. They travel through the tangled jungles, dry deserts, expansive seas, and tall mountains of Orïsha. Adeyemi also writes in beautiful Yoruba chants of the maji, creating a wholly immersive world that readers want to stay in.
“Sky Mother chose me. Used me. Took me away from everything I loved. She can’t abandon me like this.
She can’t throw me away with nothing but scars.”
My heart goes out for Zélie, who has gone through so much. She saw her mother getting killed and her father abused during the Raid as a small child. She also has the potential to become a Reaper, a maji with the power to control life and death. (SO COOL) My favorite part of Zélie was her conflicting emotions of hope and despair. She’s just so… real, considering what she has gone through. Some events make her feel resilient and ready to battle against the tyranny of the king, while others give her a sense of defeat and failure. These emotions are written so raw and real, she practically came out of the pages. Despite her powers, she has weaknesses and is not afraid to show it – especially in terms of her capricious and reckless nature.
I loved seeing her sibling relationship with Tzain, her brother. I’m surprised he didn’t get a POV in this book but would really like to see one. He’s the older brother who’s used to cleaning up Zélie’s messes. But their love and bond for each other are strong and fierce. She has a developing friendship with Amari despite her initial distrust of the noble girl, and even a hate-to-love romance with the crown prince Inan even though he’s out for her blood. Things change when his big secret is revealed, though.
“That is the type of kingdom I want to lead.
A land in which a prince and a maji could coexist. A land where even Zélie and I could be a ‘we.’ That is my true duty. It is for that cause that I must fight.”
Inan is also a character full of doubts and hidden weaknesses. Raised by his vengeful father, Inan hates all things maji. But what happens… when he discovers that he himself has powers? This is a scary moment for Inan as he treats his magic like a curse and virus. But his interactions with other divîners bring a gray side to his originally black-and-white world. He’s constantly caught between the duty of his crown and the interests of his heart. Within these interests of heart also encompasses his burgeoning romance with Zélie, who he originally seeks out to capture and kill. This hate-to-love romance also comes with a forbidden aspect, as he is nobility in contrast to Zélie’s fugitive status, as well as a slow-burn as both characters learn more about the other and their own sufferings. Let’s just say Inan’s character was… a wild card. He’s volatile and aims to please his father, but also wants to create a better Orïsha. He just doesn’t know how, especially after finding out about his own magical abilities.
No more. I have lived that life before and lost my dearest friend because of it. Now that I’ve escaped, I shall never return. With my escape, I must do more.”
Amari is sweet and meek in contrast to her take-action brother, Inan. But throughout the story and her own self-made adventure, she starts seeing her own strength and the difference she can make. I loved her character arc so much and the way she goes from privileged and sheltered princess (even as there was no love in her life) to someone fights for what she believes in and is surrounded by people who care about her and love her for the way she is. She has a delicate relationship with her brother, as they were raised in a cold family. There is also a very small romance – again slow burn – with Tzain, who has a big heart and unwavering loyalty.
Adeyemi writes the world of maji so well and so beautifully. Her exploration of the power of magic and fear of safety is so touching and raw, especially when she manages for readers to see through the thoughts of both sides of the conflict. The discrimination against the divîners are gutting to read sometimes, but also so necessary. Despite the failures, the drawbacks, and the obstacles, our characters stay strong and true. There’s a cliffhanger ending (a killer one at that) that continues the continuous action of the book and IT JUST MAKES ME WANT THE SEQUEL SO MUCH. TAKE ME. Fantasy readers cannot miss the Legacy of the Orïsha series. ALSO, I CANNOT WAIT FOR THE MOVIE TO DEVELOP. MY EYES ARE ON YOU!
torture, self harm (from blood magic), abuse, explicit violence, mild sexual content, gore, murder, slavery
Thank you Macmillan and Netgalley for the review copy!