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Children of Blood and Bone (2018)

by Tomi Adeyemi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Legacy of Orisha (1)

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2,5351354,032 (3.98)90
Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.

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English (134)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (135)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
I picked up ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ by Tomi Adeyemi, the first of a new ‘young adult’ series, when I was emotionally and intellectually exhausted. It is an assault on the senses, rather like a sniff of smelling salts.
A West African tale of magic, ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ tackles racially-charged violence, state-led racism and injustice, all wrapped-up in a magical quest. The Author’s Note at the end explains Adeyemi’s inspiration. “I kept turning on the news and seeing stories of unarmed black men, women and children being shot by the police. I felt afraid and angry and helpless, but this book was the one thing that made me feel like I could do something about it.”
‘Children of Blood and Bone’ is set in the nation of Orïsha where magic was banished in The Raid years earlier when the king ordered the death of all maji. The story is told by four teenage characters, two brother and sister pairings. Zélie’s maji mother was killed in The Raid and she is herself a diviner; her white hair marks her out as magical, but her magic is buried deep and unused. A chance meeting with runaway princess Amari sets the two girls on the trail of cherished objects which will enable Zélie to conjure the return of magic. Along the way, aided by Zélie’s sporty brother Tzarin, Zélie’s magic grows as she struggles to accept the power within her and how to control it. The appearance of the handsome prince Inan complicates things.
The book is not perfect, but this is a good debut by a young author with much promised for the rest of the series. Tzarin is a sketchy character crying out for more development, hopefully that will come in the next book, and Inan was inconsistent and therefore unbelievable. But the world building and depth of cultural reference is impressive. The pace is rather frantic and, during the first few chapters, I did wish for a stroll rather than a sprint. It takes a while to settle into a new world, to appreciate the subtleties of word and behaviour, the surroundings, the threats and opportunities. So many new magical phrases were thrown in at the beginning that I felt rather lost and almost abandoned the book. I didn’t. If you feel like I did, I urge you to continue reading and forgive any confusion or inconsistency. I wonder how much more powerful the beginning could be if the early pace were reduced by twenty per cent. When the romance became intense, I had to remind myself that they are teenagers.
The ending is a cliffhanger that I didn’t see it coming.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Jul 9, 2020 |
Wow. This book from beginning to end was fantastic. I had some issues with the book going from Zelie, Amari, and Inan. I thought the chapters showcasing Zelie and Amari's POV were the strongest. Inan's were the weakest to me. I also wish that if we were going to get Inan's POV we would have also gotten Tzain's. The world building was so good and though I am not fond of cliffhangers in my books, this one was well done. We got to see a lot of development with regards to Zelie and Amari and I can't wait for the next book in this series.

"Children of Blood and Bone" is the first book in the Legacy of Orisha series by author Tomi Adeyemi. Told in alternate first person POVs we follow a maji named Zelie, and Princess Amari and Prince Inan.

Zelie is one of the maji (dark skinned with white hair) who are treated as lesser than in the Orisha world. Many years ago maji had the ability to do magic. When the current king ordered all maji to be hunted down and killed, magic left Orisha. Zelie has the urge to fight back, but knows that doing so could cost her what is left of her family. When she goes off to sell some fish near where the royal family resides, she comes across a girl (Princess Amari) who she ends up helping escape. This leads to Zelie, Amari, and Zelie's brother Tzain going off to do what they can to restore magic to Orisha.

My favorite character ended up actually being Princess Amari. Watching her development through the story of doing what she knew was right even though it would pit her against her father and her brother was fantastic. Her final fight scene was epic. I mean I was hooting and hollering.

Zelie I found to be way too harsh concerning Amari. I was getting sick of it after a while. I get why she was angry, but after a certain point I didn't get it especially because of her "feelings" for Inan. Speaking of that, the whole thing with Inan felt forced to me and not necessary. I loved that Zelie was going to do what she could to restore magic and that she was not going to stop til the king was off the throne. She was stubborn and didn't think things through enough at times, but was definitely passionate.

As I said above the POVs with Inan were the weakest in my opinion. Honestly I think to make the book stronger it would have been better to just focus on Zelie and Amari. In the end though I did feel sorry for Inan. No spoilers, but dang. Once again we get an exciting scene.

We have a ton of secondary characters in this one, but it's easy enough to keep people straight. Maybe in the next book though the author would want to include a character's list at the beginning of the book. Some people will like that.

The writing was lyrical. I always get worried that many books get a bit too "purple prose" but this one does not. I could picture every person, every scene, every fight, every goddess. I loved it. I was hungering for some art in this book. The flow was a bit off when we would switch from the two girls POV to Inan's, but not enough to wreck my enjoyment of the story. I also want to praise Adeyemi for being able to write credible fight scenes showcasing magic and also swords and staffs. One of the biggest letdowns when I read any Young Adult fantasy novels is when people are fighting with magic. It never makes sense and or sounds convoluted as anything. I am still disappointed with "The Bone Witch" since when the author of that book talked about using magic it sounded boring.

Author Adeyemi at the end of this book says that she wrote this after watching news story after news story showing unarmed black men, women, and children being gunned down the police in the United States. She names so many women and men who have died in this country, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Jordan Edwards, and so many others. Telling us that we have been knocked down too much and now it's our time to rise, to rise like the maji (the Diviners) that we see in this story rise.

This story takes place in the fictional Orisha. We have a lot of information told to us throughout this book and I seriously loved how Adeyemi plays with African mythology as well as with allowing a look at colorism in the African American community as we know it. It's very pointed that in this book that Zelie is dark skinned with white hair and the ruling family is all about not going out in the sun, having brown or lighter skin.

The book does end on a cliffhanger which as I said above I as a rule am not fond of at all. I like each book to conclude an arc/plot of that story and just move onto the next thing. When you leave things twisting in the wind it can become frustrating as a reader. I didn't mind with this one since the possibilities it left us with are exciting. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
This novel has so many layers to it. Although it's part of the familiar YA/fantasy genre, it's not quite like anything I've read before. I'm going to have to mull this one over for a while. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
i dont know man ( )
  bloomingtea | Jun 28, 2020 |
I suspect that I'm not the only one who nurtured childhood fantasies of being suddenly wrested from my ordinary experience to have magical adventures. Hence the popularity of "chosen one" narratives, particularly in the young adult genre. Tomi Adeyemi builds on the legacy of the Percy Jacksons and Pevensie siblings that came before, but for her debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone, she grounds it thoroughly outside of the "white people in Western countries" place it has lived for so long. She creates as her world Orisha, loosely based on Nigeria and the magic in her tales comes from the mythology of the region. There used to be magicians in this world, the maji, divided into ten clans with a special connection to gods and goddesses and their representative elements. But then a cruel, autocratic king cracked down and slaughtered the maji. The adults, anyways. The children were left behind.

The loss of her mother in the raid that ended magic haunts teenage Zelie even years later. She takes after her mother in that she's a Diviner, born with the distinctive white hair that marks her as a potential maji and therefore subjected to discrimination. Her brother Tzain, though, is "normal" like their father, who's never recovered from the loss of his wife. Their lives are forever changed when one day Zelie heads to the capital city to go to the market, and runs into Amari, the country's princess, fleeing her father and the palace with a powerfully important scroll. That scroll, along with other artifacts, has the power to bring magic back to Orisha. Zelie, Amari, and Tzain find themselves on the run from the King and his son, Amari's brother Inan, who discovers much to his dismay that he's not as dissimilar from the Diviners he hates as he'd like. An unexpected connection between Zelie and Inan could be what saves them all...or what dooms them.

This is not my usual type of book: I don't read YA particularly often, and it focuses heavily on plot over characterization and prose. Nevertheless, that plot moved forward so relentlessly that it was impossible to resist getting swept up in it, even when it veered toward the ridiculous. From nearly the second we meet them, our characters are under threat, and no sooner does one danger pass than another arises. Even as the story zooms, Adeyemi does some quality world-building, introducing the reader to a deeply earth-rooted system of magic in a way that gave enough detail to be intriguing without gratuitous information-dumping. It's refreshing to read a story that doesn't rely on the same familiar Christian and/or Eurocentric myths for inspiration.

That being said, while the details of the story are fresh, many of the beats are eye-rollingly familiar: enemies to friends, hate to love, capture and rescue. There are serious, serious deficiencies in character development...no one feels like more than a set of keywords and relationships that the readers are clearly supposed to get deeply invested in are so thinly sketched that the "payoff" barely registers. Prose quality that might elevate the more rote elements is absent...the writing isn't at all bad, but neither is it ever more than serviceable. The book doesn't feel like it's meant to be taken in and of itself, but rather as a springboard: for a movie, for sequels. While it's compelling and compulsively readable while it's in your hands, it loses a lot when it's over and you have time to think about it If you're into this genre and these kinds of stories, you'll probably very much enjoy this book. If you're looking for something to keep you entertained on the airplane, this is a solid choice. If this isn't the kind of story you're predisposed to like, though, this is skippable. ( )
1 vote GabbyHM | Jun 24, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
Digesting volumes of brutal and downtrodden images can be dangerous. It can lead to despair, paralysis, and/or self-fulfilling prophecies of further demise. Millions of people are ordinarily numb to the fact that hyper-violence and wretched Africanized worlds are hallmarks of modern media (esp. Hollywood), and accept it wholesale. Remarkably though, Adeyemi inserts a critical lifeline into this abyss–the concept that the Gods of one’s own ancestors (in this case the Orisha) provide salvation unlike any other.
If a “Black Lives Matter–inspired fantasy novel” sounds like an ungainly hybrid—a pitch gone wrong—think again... The creator of a mythical land called Orïsha, Adeyemi taps into a rich imaginative lineage as she weaves West African mythology into a bespoke world that resonates with our own.

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tomi Adeyemiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Collins, PatrickDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jansson, CarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, KeithMap illustrationsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Turpin, BahniNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verheijen, AngeliqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I try not to think of her.
But when I do, I think of rice.
When mama was around, the hut always smelled of jollof rice.
I think about the way her dark skin glowed like the summer sun, the way her smile made Baba come alive. The way her white hair fuzzed and coiled, an untamed crown that breathed and thrived.
I hear the myths she would tell me at night. Tzain's laughter when they played agbon in the park.
Baba's cries as the soldiers wrapped a chain around her neck. Her screams as they dragged her into the dark.
The incantations that spewed from her mouth like lava. The magic of death that led her astray.
I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree.
I think about the king who took her away.
To Mom and Dad
who sacrificed everything to give me this chance
To Jackson
who believed in me and this story long before I did
First words
Pick me.
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