Children of Blood and Bone is a young adult fantasy novel, the likes of which you won’t have read before. Quite a startling and ambitious novel in terms of breadth, scope, world-building and social commentary, it is a book that impresses and informs on so many levels. Adeyemi has taken traditions from West African folklore and woven them into a fantasy world that is beautiful, detailed and all-enveloping, under-scored with a palpable anger that the author freely admits is what powered her desire to write the book.
The novel is set in the imaginary world of Orisha, which has its foundations clearly in Nigeria, where the maji people once possessed powerful magic, until that was taken from them and their leaders were brutally slaughtered by the king, the remnants of the race now living under oppression in a land where the colour of your skin determines your social standing. The story is told from the perspectives of three protagonists; Zelie, the daughter of a powerful maji leader who finds a way to tap into the remnants of her magic and the opportunity to bring it back to all he maji in the land; Amari, the daughter of the brutal king who has suffered her own form of oppression; and Inan, the son and heir of the kind who pursues Zelie in an attempt to apprehend her, whilst hiding his own dark secret. Each of these voices is clear and well-developed, and brings a different perspective to the story that helps the reader understand this world, its tensions and difficulties from all angles. It is a masterful technique.
The world that the author has built here is beautiful and evocative and detailed and fascinating, but also with recognisable parallels to our society and the fundamental inequalities that exist in it and have so recently resulted in uprising. Adeyemi explores all aspects of oppression and inequality through the story of Orisha, including addressing some of the misconceptions that arise on all sides and, interestingly, how inequalities of race, power, economic standing and gender intersect. Whilst this book is sold as a young adult fantasy novel, the book has so much to say to people of all ages and interests, I would urge anyone to read it, even if you think this genre is not usually for you. In addition to the social messaging, the book also involves a tender, enemies to lovers romance, which is developed beautifully and convincingly, in a way that enhances, rather than detracts from, the quest storyline.
The novel garnered a six-figure advance and has already been placed in production as a movie. It is the first book in a planned trilogy, with book two already in print, and which I cannot wait to read. I can completely understand why the book has merited all of this buzz, it is totally deserved. It is impressive, pacy and entertaining, but at the same time goes much deeper and rewards the reader with a complex reading experience. For anyone looking for a fiction book that explores the issues raised by the BLM movement, you can do no better than this.
The book is long, but does not lack in action at any point. I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator was absolutely wonderful, she really brought each of the voices to life in an authentic way and I can highly recommend the audio version as a great value for money use of an Audible credit.
Jools M - 31/07/2020
Children of Blood and Bone is a GROUND BREAKING magical book that makes you feel grief, oppression, love, family and most of all, magic. It has all the right elements, realistic characters that you root for from page one, a GORGEOUS cover and basically the epic black protagonist book we’ve all been looking for.
1. I took this book on a photography trip with me, up North, and through the most hectic week of my life, all I could think about was going back to the bus/ room and reading more of this BEAUTY.
2. I am OBSSESSED with books that are obsessed with magic and Children of Blood and Bone had it ALL. Magical artefacts, different kinds of power, the repercussions of using magic, the beauty within magic and the fight to bring magic back. I LOVED IT SO MUCH.
3. Tomi Adeyemi’s characters are STUNNING, but especially Zelie. I fell for this broken, magical, headstrong girl instantly and reading about the world through her eyes, and experiencing her grief was breath taking and I loved every second of it. Her hate, her hope and her need for change was so raw, and she clawed her way into my heart. I also ADORED Roen, and I hope he has a much bigger role to play in books to come.
4. I also LOVED Inan, the prince and Tzain, Zelie’s brother. I was a little disappointed that Tzain didn’t get a viewpoint in the book, because he was such an important character. Inan, however, HOLY WOW. His character development and his thought process and responsibilities were so well written that I craved more from this tortured Prince.
5. Amari was definitely my least favourite character among the four. While I liked her growth, I simply failed to connect with her.
6. THE PLOT AND WORLD BUILDING IS INSANE, AND DEFINITTELY #1 NYT BESTSELLER WORTHY. There was always something happening, always another plot twists or characters surprising you and it kept me on the edge of my seat!
7. My favourite part of this book, however, was the parallel that Tomi Adeyemi drew to the Black Lives Matter movement in her fantasy world. Just like Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, I felt everything – the pain, the oppression, the need for justice, fairness and compassion. It was a beautifully written book.
A stunning, beautiful, hard-hitting, magical debut novel, with brilliant women that will remind you of Black Panther, set in the fantasy world of your dreams. 4.5 stars.
Aditi - ATWAMB - 22/03/2018