Children of Blood and Bone
(Legacy of Orïsha #1)
By Tomi Adeyemi
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
Children of Blood and Bone was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. It easily delivered all that was promised with a few additional and welcomed surprises!
Zélie Adebola is a young descendant of the maji clan; IKU. Her mother was a Divîner, once wielding the power of life and death. When a maji comes of age, it is said that those born with the white hair are Divîners. Touched by the gods, they hold specific powers. However, all of that was lost when the King targeted and killed all Divîners of age and stripped their world of magic, leaving Zélie and her brother Tzain motherless. The survivors are left to face harsh laws, ridiculous taxes and labor camps when they are unable to pay their debts to the monarchy. Many will die slaves and the people of Eloirin face a terrible fate. But when a trip to the city of Lagose in efforts to sell a rare fish that could save her family sparks a chance encounter between Zélie and the King’s daughter Amari, she soon discovers she just might save something greater. She is given a chance to free her people and restore magic. But first she must learn to accept and wield her own powers while embracing new and unexpected allies.
Children of Blood and Bone serves up an exquisite dish of diversity on multiple fronts. Boasting a wide array of characters that hail from opposite ends of the social spectrum, the reader is supplied with varying perspectives that explore relevant topics such as institutional racism and the division of upper and lower class citizens. Zélie is fierce and defiant with a strong desire to rise against the injustice she witnesses daily. Often her willingness to stand leads to irrational behavior and sporadic decisions. Amari has been sheltered, living behind the palace walls of a father who has spoon fed her lies intended to spark fear and hatred. But her heart tells her there must be something more, something better. When the two girls collide and discover they must work together if they hope to ever succeed in returning magic to the land, the monarchy is not the only obstacle they face. They must accept what they have been raised to fear and hate, each other. What unfolds is a beautifully complex relationship that is both challenging and rewarding.
The magic system is equally complex and distinct. The magi consist of 10 different clans, each stemming from their own deity and therefore possessing various powers. Marked by their white hair, the Divîner’s blood contains ashê, enabling them to call their sacred gifts forth. These powers range from controlling life, death, mind, spirit and dream to a range of elements and even time.
The setting is ever evolving as Zélie, Tzain and Amari traverse the land (Orïsha) on their journey. We are exposed to various landscapes, some physical and some otherworldly. The possibilities feel unlimited and easily submerge the reader into an intoxicating atmosphere shrouded in the unknown while slowly divulging more of the maji history and culture along the way.
Tomi Adeyemi’s writing practically reads itself. There is an instant connection established that refuses to let go. While the plot is laden with elements of magic and fantasy, the characters feel incredibly viable and specific moments tangible. This is an incredibly large story that is carried effortlessly with brilliantly timed, alternating narratives and even pacing.
Perhaps the real magic hidden within is the unexpectedly powerful message portrayed with stunning grace and clarity. Children of Blood and Bone transcends traditional ya fantasy, delivering an emotionally charged adventure that I am tempted to call perfection. Must read!
Fun Fact: Children of Blood and Bone is soon to be a major feature film with Fox 2000 Pictures.
*I would like to thank the publisher for this advanced copy. The above review is my own, unbiased opinion.
Devoured over multiple cups of roobios tea with almond and vanilla.