Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Series: Legacy of Orïsha #1
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Imprint: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: March 06, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Blurb from Goodreads:
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.
For a debut novel, this one is spectacularly good. Children of Blood and Bone is one of those books surrounded by so much hype and I dare say that the hype is legit. This book absolutely lived up to its reputation. I was considerably impressed! There wasn’t a page I didn’t enjoy. Everything was polished—the worldbuilding, the characters, the history, the action, the mythology and the magic system. And here’s the wonderful thing—all the characters are proudly black. How cool is that?
“As long as we don’t have magic, they will never treat us with respect. They need to know we can hit them back. If they burn our homes, we burn theirs, too.”
Knowing that this is the first book of a series, I’ve readied myself for some info dump because that’s often a case with series starters. But such was not the case with this book. Tomi Adeyemi built her world with brief yet exquisite descriptions. There was just the right amount of attention to details to make a superb worldbuilding without sacrificing the smooth flaw of the plot and without loosing the thrill as our characters embarked on a journey to save magic. It was wild and exciting following Zelie, Amari, and Tzain as they travel all across Orïsha to fulfill their mission. Their journey took us to many different places—from a fishing village to forgotten temples to the cruelest of places where killing is just a game—all of them elaborately painted. Adeyemi’s world will just wow you with its vividness.
“No matter how much I crave peace, the gods have other plans.”
All of the characters were so lovable. Okay, maybe not you, Inan (more on him later). They were incredibly flawed but flawlessly developed. The stakes are high and it definitely added heft to the story. Each of these characters have plenty to lose if they failed and a lot to gain if they succeed. I love that Adeyemi didn’t shy away from forcing her characters to hard places making them tougher, stronger, and wiser. And though they already showed an amazing growth in this book—individually and as a team—there was still room for a great deal of growth for each of them as the book ends.
“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back!”
We follow three distinct POVs: Zelie—a powerless maji determined to bring magic back, Amari—a princess who wants to right the wrongs caused by her family, and Inan—a prince set on a mission to put an end to magic once and for all. Zelie is a heroine you can’t help but love. You can see the strength of her will and her determination right from the very first page of the book. And she only gets better from there. She grew fiercer as a huge responsibility falls on her shoulders. As she witness more unforgivable horrors faced by every living maji all over Orïsha, she became even more determined to give them all a fighting chance. Even after Zelie had a taste of her power, of what she could become, there were still times when she doubted herself. The admirable thing is, she’s not afraid to keep trying anyway.
“It doesn’t matter how strong I get, how much power my magic wields. They will always hate me in this world.”
Amari won the “Character Who Have Grown the Most” title here. I admit I didn’t like her right off the bat. But she’s the kind of character that grows slowly and constantly, and before you know it, you’re gradually warming up to her. I loved seeing her transform from a pampered and naive princess to someone fierce, self-willed and unrelenting. I can’t wait to see what she becomes in the next book.
“You have your duty and your heart. To choose one means the other must suffer.”
If you’ve read my previous reviews you may notice that I’m a sucker for good villains. By “good” I mean the ones who makes everything really difficult for our protagonists. So yes, I love Inan… the pre-romance Inan. Both Inan and Zelie are fighting for a valid reason. While Zelie is determined to bring magic back to life so no maji will ever be helpless against the monarch’s abuses, Inan is equally determined to do everything to end it so no maji may rule above the powerless ever again. It would have been intriguing to see them fight from different sides of the line especially because they both think they’re fighting for the right reasons. But then Inan came face to face with Zelie and suddenly he begin to question everything he was taught to believe about the majis. Granted he was seeing for the first time the other side of truth that his father has kept from him—countless majis enslaved, killed without a fight, killed for entertainment, forced to live in pain and fear—but he was flipping sides far too many times that I eventually give up trying to understand him. I just hope he’ll finally chose a side in the next book. And I seriously hope he’ll take the path to the dark side because, come on, we need a good villain and Inan has all the potential to be one.
One of the things that I really enjoyed reading about are the different kinds of relationships between the characters. Zelie’s and Amari’s growing friendship. The sibling relationship between Zelie and Tzain, and the one between Amari and Inan. Zelie and Tzain has the most relatable relationship. They argue a lot, like all siblings do, but when danger comes, protecting each other is always their priority. Amari’s and Inan’s relationship may not be as relatable as Zelie’s and Tzain’s, but it pulls you anyway because it’s so fragile it will keep you wondering when it would break or if it would break.
“I won’t let your ignorance silence my pain.”
My sole complaint isn’t really a huge issue. It’s the romance between Inan and Zelie. How can you possibly fall in love with someone who intentionally tried to kill you multiple times not even a week ago? It just felt random and came out of thin air. And no, Inan saving Zelie once is not foundation enough for a romance. If anything, it only made Zelie look like she’d mistaken gratitude for love. The romance should have just been left with Amari and Tzain—you melt my heart, you two!
Children of Blood and Bone is stunning debut and I have a feeling that this is a kind of series that only gets better with every installment. Although I hope to get more specifics in the next book. Let’s dig more about the clans, maybe? If you’re looking for a captivating, action-packed adventure, with culture and magic, look no further!