They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us.
NOW WE RISE.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’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 an enemy.
WOW. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Children of Blood and Bone is genuinely one of the best debut fantasies, the best young adult fantasies, the best books I have read in a long, long time. It demonstrates what happens when publishers choose to publish something original rather than jumping on the bandwagon and publishing whatever happens to be popular right now. The closest book I can compare it to is N.K. Jemesin’s Dreamblood duology, but even then… it would only be in the way in which it draws on mythology (Dreamblood draws on Egyptian mythology, while CBB draws on West African).
I was a little apprehensive going into CBB, mostly because of its size. I’ve found — particularly with fantasies — that books of this size usually suffer from a multitude of issues, from pacing to the need of a good edit. While I would’ve liked to see more realistic development of relationships — I got whiplash from how quickly Zélie and Inan’s and Amari and Tzain’s relationships developed — the pacing of the story itself was well-done. I did find that things were often resolved quite quickly, so by the end of the novel I found that the stakes weren’t high enough for me. Like so many other reviewers, I found myself captivated by Adeyemi’s prose — there is something lyrical about it; something that lends itself well to a story about finding magic. Adeyemi moves easily from describing Zélie’s inner struggles to describing characters waging a war. It’s hard to believe that this is her debut novel.
The characterisation was really well done. I think my favourite character is Inan, although I did find myself being a little puzzled over his reactions to certain events. They didn’t always feel natural and his growth didn’t always feel organic. On the other hand, Amari’s development is outstanding. It’s amazing to watch her grow from a meek princess to a warrior. I was completely hooked — the characters were so complex and I was completely invested in their growth and development. As this book was told from multiple points of view, I would’ve also liked to see a little more distinction between the voices, as often I could only tell whose chapter it was by who was being mentioned in third person.
The plot is intense and action-packed. There are so many parallels drawn between Divîners in Orïsha and people of colour in our world. It forces you to consider systemic racism and injustices caused by those in authority who are supposed to protect the community. Adeyemi did manage to throw in a couple of surprises. Towards the end I was virtually speed-reading, on the edge of my seat while reading. I was utterly captivated. The cliffhanger was cruel, though. I cannot wait for Children of Virtue and Vengeance next year.