About the Novel
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.
I’d seen a lot of news about this book prior to reading it. Fox 2000 picked up the movie rights earlier this year – and the book isn’t even out until March 2018! Karen Rosenfelt and Wyck Godfrey—who have previously worked on movies such as Twilight, Maze Runner, and The Fault in Our Stars—are signed on to produce it. That’s huge.
The book also features a black, female protagonist, an almost all-black cast, African-inspired culture and worldbuilding, metaphors for serious and relevant social and racial issues, and was written by a Nigerian-American author. That, too, is huge.
So it’s safe to say that this book has a lot of hype. Or at least it will, once the marketing machines kick into gear. I wanted to see just how good a book it was, and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC…
In this book, magic has been taken away from the people. Those few folks who would have been able to wield it—the devîners—are treated like scum, and are targeted by the regime of a tyrannical king. But now the magic may be coming back.
What follows is an exciting and emotional adventure across a refreshingly different world, as our protagonists seek to bring about the return of magic. Adeyemi is wonderful at weaving in small details that become important later in the story. The pacing is solid, and the action scenes are plenty while remaining justified.
Plot Score: 4/5
As this is clearly a Young Adult book, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of flowery prose. The prose is a vehicle to drive the story, and that’s fine. Each point-of-view character was written in first-person, which was different enough from what I usually read to be interesting, and they each have their own voice. Maybe these voices could have been a little bit more distinct, but there was nothing awful here.
Prose Score: 3/5
Alright, here we go. Character is probably this books main strength. Each of our three POV characters are distinct people, each competent in their own way.
First up, we have Zélie, a spunky divîner who harbours a lot of rage and animosity towards the monarchy following the death of her mother. Zélie is likable, principled, and flawed. Zélie could probably be considered our “main” character, as the book opens with her and focuses on her journey to bring magic back to her people.
Secondly, we have Amari, who happens to be a princess. Amari’s best friend is a divîner servant named Binta, whom she has developed a close relationship with despite her father’s feelings towards divîners. Amari is a sweet girl who sympathises with the people oppressed by her father, and is far more capable than people give her credit for.
Lastly, we have Inan. Inan is Amari’s brother, and is a captain in Orïsha’s military. All Inan wants is to be the son that his father expects him to be, and a lot of his characterisation revolves around this fact. Inan is tasked with stopping the return of magic.
Reading the above, you’d be forgiven for thinking that these characters are the usual YA tropey templates. They aren’t. Adeyemi allows her characters to think for themselves. They question their motives, and they ponder the consequences of their actions. The first-person POVs really allow you to get inside the head of the characters, and connect with them. I enjoyed my time with the people that Adeyemi created, with my only real complaint being that they seemed the flip-flop with their opinions very quickly.
Character Score: 4/5
There is a lot to like about the setting in Children of Blood and Bone. There are quaint sea-side villages with floating markets, dense forests, and scorching deserts. The magic is intriguing and mysterious, with a lot of potential. The colourful African-inspired culture is very different from what is usually seen in fantasy, and shines through in many of the scenes while still maintaining an air of familiarity.
Unfortunately, I just don’t think we saw enough of the setting. The plot is pretty fast-paced, and so we see characters skipping from location to location, and very rarely do we get simply enjoy the world before the story whisks us off again.
Also, I like maps. I didn’t see a map. Minus one quarter point.
Setting Score: 3.5/5
This is a really great YA novel, and one that I’m sure will do very well on release. If you’re not a fan of young adult books, and all the usual tropes that come with that, I’d suggest that you give this one a miss. If you like the idea of a kickass black female protagonist kicking around an African-inspired world, with some thought-provoking allegories for racial tensions, you may enjoy this.
Children of Blood and Bone is set for release on March 6, 2018.