“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.” (GR)
Children of Blood and Bone is set in the land of Orïsha, where the maji once wielded their magic and ruled the elements. But our heroine Zélie lives in an Orïsha where ‘magic has gone away,’ where ‘the Raid’ happened and her mother and countless other maji were murdered by king Saran’s army. Zélie is living with this trauma of genocide in a world of systemic oppression, resisting where she can, without magic and fearing for her non-maji brother and father. Marked by their dark skin and stark white hair, dîviners are harassed, abused and killed by the lighter-skinned ruling kosidán. The parallels to the white supremacist US and Black resistance movements such as #BLM are clear. She also explores colorism and the privileges that come with it.
Adeyemi has created a stunning piece of speculative fiction with detailed world-building. She has drawn on West-African and especially Yoruba culture to create the world of Orïsha and it’s never not going to be a relief and pleasant surprise to get to read non-Western fantasy. Also, there are snow leoponaires! There is an overview of the maji clans at the beginning of the book and I hope we’ll get to meet more of them in the sequel.
The book is told in alternating points of view from Zélie, Amari and her brother Inan. It’s quite easy to follow despite that and allows us to see their doubts and how they influence each other. For example we get a Zélie that will do everything to change the system but in her chapters we also get to experience her as traumatized, as having huge doubts about her own role in the revolution and the love and hope she holds for her family and her people. With Amari we get an inkling of how she came to support the cause and of the fighter behind the shy, privileged princess. Quite a surprise was also Inan, but I don’t want to say much more except I’m glad how his role and the relationships he formed were handled. The women in this book are amazingly complex and I’m so glad teens get Black feminist reads like CoBB.
This a hyped book (and I am so glad this book got all the hype), but let me tell you, the hype is real! Children of Blood and Bone is a fast-paced, Black fantasy that’ll leave you breathless. While the pacing was excellent, my reading was purposely slow. Because I loved this book so much that even 600 pages weren’t enough. And I’m usually meh about books longer than 350 pages. So, read it now, if you haven’t already! Brace yourself for quite a bit of violence though.
Finally, fair warning: Take a deep breath before you read the last page! 😀 The wait for book 2 will be rough, but remember we’re getting to see the movie adaptation before (I think). I’m so excited! There’s a scene where Zélie finds other dîviners and there’s celebration and can you imagine how amazing that will be to see on the screen!?
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Fierce Reads in exchange for an honest review.