CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE is a phenomenal, compelling, urgently paced young adult fantasy that left me in a state of immense wonder. The world, Orïsha, felt both like a dream and my home, and I can’t wait to live there again and again while I await more from Tomi Adeyemi.
This great novel is told from three vibrant perspectives:
Zélie is our main protagonist. She’s a diviner, a descendant of powerful, magical people given abilities by the gods. Diviners were stripped of their power after an ethnic cleansing that cost Zélie her mother, and now she lives with her brother and Baba in a slum under the oppressive thumb of an enraged monarch.
Amari, our second point of view, is a mouse of a princess living a more privileged life away from the atrocities her tyrannical father commands, yet still under his watchful eye as well as her disapproving mother’s.
Our third perspective is Inan’s. He is the son of the king, and he must never disappoint his father. He’s being raised to be intolerant of diviners and to ensure they never regain their magic. He lives by his father’s teachings and he believes if the Maji regain their power then they will destroy Orïsha.
One day, Amari witnesses a devastating act of violence that awakens her to the true, “peaceful” Orïsha she’s being bred to rule. This compels her to escape the palace and to steal something from her father, something he would light the world on fire to prevent the diviners from possessing. Soon, Amari’s world collides with Zélie’s and they go on a journey propelled by destiny and their shared fierce desire and need to free Orïsha. Inan tails them, and he will do anything to kill magic, even if it means losing his humanity.
I absolutely loved this novel. I found it to be an enchanting and such an impactful read. It’s an experience I adored for various reasons and I cannot wait to see where Tomi Adeyemi takes this story and these characters.
Let me list the things I loved about this book:
The characters are divine.
I LOVED the different perspectives. Every one of them. Zélie is the perfect protagonist because she’s vibrant and projects real vulnerabilities and a ferocity that’s easy to identify with and root for. Amari is a gem and a sweetheart and her character’s growth was my favorite of the three leads. And Inan, he was the most compelling character for me since he’s so tragic, with his conflicted beliefs and destructive actions. Aside from the leads, there are many secondary characters that pulled me into the story. Zélie’s brother is a hero and a true prince and I would’ve loved a few scenes from his perspective. The king is a great villain, and I enjoyed reading about his backstory. Actually, I loved reading about all the characters’ backstories and how their stories were connected to Orïsha. My only complaint, and it’s a tiny one, is that there were a few characters who…left too soon and I would’ve loved more scenes with them. But hell, it’s the first book in a YA series and already 525 pages so everyone couldn’t have gotten a POV, right?
The story gripped me and the pace thrilled me.
I found CBB to be a quickly paced read bursting with action (and violence!) and magic. The chapters are relatively short, and each and every scene grabbed my attention. Seriously, every one. There isn’t excessive world building which I loved since I think it helped the story move along at a pace that matches the urgency of the stakes the characters face. I had to force myself to slow down and savor it, and I still felt like it ended too soon when it was over. Not to say there aren’t a few quiet moments, because there are, and I loved those moments since they allowed me to get to know the characters and for the characters to know each other. (Loved those dream sequences!)
The message and themes are profound and universal.
This is a story about fear and intolerance and how that leads to violence and oppression. Orïsha is a fractured nation with a horrific past, and a hopeless future for too many who live without freedom. This is a fantasy land, but it’s clear it draws from real life atrocities that occur daily in the world around us and that allows this novel to have weight. The stakes are high, and the trauma is real and personal. It’s also a story about faith and believing in a power greater than yourself. It’s about believing in people and how we’re all connected as one. Yes, it tackles some tough and distressing issues, and the characters experience so much pain and strife, but there is hope and there is love and moments of joy and humor.
There’s also romance.
Though it’s not the central theme of the novel, and when you look at the novel it doesn’t take up much space, there is romance for a few characters. One romantic plot is intense and fast, and the other is more slow burning, but they both added depth to the story and softer layers to the world filled with terror and rage. It also provided sweetness and relief from the urgency to succeed in their quest.
The more intense romance could potentially be unsatisfying for a few readers since its intensity builds quickly over a short span of time. For me, I loved it for the way it unfolded and how—I’m trying not to give too much away—the author uses the magic to allow these characters to connect on a deeper level than would be possible in a different setting. View Spoiler »(I mean, they connected on a subconscious level! Have I already said I loved those dream sequences?) « Hide Spoiler
The other romantic plot line didn’t delve as deeply into the characters’ feelings, but there’s much room to grow for that love story and I’m so excited to see how it plays out.
They’re endless, and I’m sure they’ll be torturous. This is the first in a series, so it’s not a spoiler to say it ends with a cliffhanger, and I’m so happy to say it ends on one of the better cliffhangers that I’ve read. The journey that these characters travel throughout the story does climax in the final chapter, but it’s the type of bang that is really a beginning. I have re-read the epilogue a few times and my mind is dizzy with different possibilities. I’m going down so many different roads, and my excitement continues to build because I just know the next book is going to be amazing. It must be—this world is amazing. I want more. I WANT MORE.
CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE is all that I hoped it would be. It’s all that I hoped it would be. How often does that happen? It’s a wonderful feeling.
Read it.Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, Audiobook
Source: Audible, Barnes and Noble
Buy on Amazon, Buy on B&N, Buy on iBooks
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.