“Children of Blood and Bone”
by Tomi Adeyemi
Published March 6, 2018
Zélie Adebola, the feisty protagonist of Tomi Adeyemi’s new high fantasy novel “Children of Blood and Bone”, is a divîner–her white hair marks her to be something “lesser” simply because her ancestors were maji.
Zélie remembers when her beautiful country of Orïsha was awash with magic from the Tiders and their waves, the Grounders that built entire villages, the Burners that kept them warm and the Reapers, like her mother, who summoned souls. They were all born with dark skin, striking white hair and the promise that, when they were old enough, one of the gods would bless them with their magic.
Zélie remembers the day that the ruthless new king ascended to the throne, destroyed magic, had his guards murder her mother along with every other practicing maji, and left behind only the child legacies of once-magical leaders. Zélie is given a chance at restoring magic to her home when she meets the rogue Princess Amari and a sacred scroll falls into her hands. They must outrun and outfox the crown prince, who is bound and determined to wipe out magic, in order to reforge the connection between the gods and the divîners.
Tomi Adeyemi’s debut West African fantasy novel is an encapsulating ride from its gripping start to its beautiful end. This novel, the first in a trilogy, is an epic feat in worldbuilding. A book in the high fantasy realm, one that is founded in something completely unknown to the reader, is complex. The characters must be ones to which the reader can connect; the world has to be one that the reader can live in, if only temporarily; the plot arc needs to be equal parts surprising and real. A great book, like “Children of Blood and Bone”, that meets all requirements flawlessly is difficult to come by.
The novel is not perfect as there were moments where the characters seemed unreachable and their actions incomprehensible. Despite this, the plot throughout the book was surprising and real. Adeyemi throws her reader into a tangible adventure–albeit packed with strange creatures, a handful of gods and magic. The fact that the reader can consistently understand but never predict the plotline is of utmost importance.
Dubbed the “Black Lives Matter-inspired fantasy,” this revolution of divîners against the lighter-skinned monarchy has become one of the most highly anticipated YA books of 2018. It’s already been signed for a movie deal with Fox 2000, and the next two books have hard publish dates of 2019 and 2020.
“Children of Blood and Bone” is for people of color. The magic is for the people discovering their power. The words are for those who need a few extra. The broken world is for the makers. The powerhouse characters are for the dreamers, while their imperfections are for the realists. Their successes and failures are for all of us. This book takes reality and twists it into a shattered mirror, leaving us with only our eyes staring back.