Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were 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 powersand her growing feelings for an enemy.
“The next big thing in literature and film.”Ebony
“One of the biggest young adult fiction debut book deals of the year. Aside from a compelling plot and a strong-willed heroine as the protagonist, the book deals with larger themes, like race and power, that are being discussed in real time.”Teen Vogue
“A remarkable achievement.”Campus Lately
“Tomi Adeyemi is about to take both the literature and film world by storm.”Jet
About the Author
Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American writer and creative writing coach based in San Diego, California. After graduating Harvard University with an honors degree in English literature, she studied West African mythology and culture in Salvador, Brazil. She is the author of Children of Blood and Bone.
Read an Excerpt
It's all I can do not to scream. I dig my nails into the marula oak of my staff and squeeze to keep from fidgeting. Beads of sweat drip down my back, but I can't tell if it's from dawn's early heat or from my heart slamming against my chest. Moon after moon I've been passed over.
Today can't be the same.
I tuck a lock of snow-white hair behind my ear and do my best to sit still. As always, Mama Agba makes the selection grueling, staring at each girl just long enough to make us squirm.
Her brows knit in concentration, deepening the creases in her shaved head. With her dark brown skin and muted kaftan, Mama Agba looks like any other elder in the village. You would never guess a woman her age could be so lethal.
"Ahem." Yemi clears her throat at the front of the ahéré, a not-so-subtle reminder that she's already passed this test. She smirks at us as she twirls her hand-carved staff, eager to see which one of us she gets to defeat in our graduation match. Most girls cower at the prospect of facing Yemi, but today I crave it. I've been practicing and I'm ready.
I know I can win.
Mama Agba's weathered voice breaks through the silence. A collective exhale echoes from the fifteen other girls who weren't chosen. The name bounces around the woven walls of the reed ahéréuntil I realize Mama Agba's called me.
Mama Agba smacks her lips. "I can choose someone else —"
"No!" I scramble to my feet and bow quickly. "Thank you, Mama. I'm ready."
The sea of brown faces parts as I move through the crowd. With each step, I focus on the way my bare feet drag against the reeds of Mama Agba's floor, testing the friction I'll need to win this match and finally graduate.
When I reach the black mat that marks the arena, Yemi is the first to bow. She waits for me to do the same, but her gaze only stokes the fire in my core. There's no respect in her stance, no promise of a proper fight. She thinks because I'm a divîner, I'm beneath her.
She thinks I'm going to lose.
"Bow, Zélie." Though the warning is evident in Mama Agba's voice, I can't bring myself to move. This close to Yemi, the only thing I see is her luscious black hair, her coconut-brown skin, so much lighter than my own. Her complexion carries the soft brown of Orïshans who've never spent a day laboring in the sun, a privileged life funded by hush coin from a father she never met. Some noble who banished his bastard daughter to our village in shame.
I push my shoulders back and thrust my chest forward, straightening though I need to bend. Yemi's features stand out in the crowd of divîners adorned with snow-white hair. Divîners who've been forced to bow to those who look like her time and time again.
"Zélie, do not make me repeat myself."
"But Mama —"
"Bow or leave the ring! You're wasting everyone's time."
With no other choice, I clench my jaw and bow, making Yemi's insufferable smirk blossom. "Was that so hard?" Yemi bows again for good measure. "If you're going to lose, do it with pride."
Muffled giggles break out among the girls, quickly silenced by a sharp wave of Mama Agba's hand. I shoot them a glare before focusing on my opponent.
We'll see who's giggling when I win.
We back up to the edge of the mat and kick our staffs up from the ground. Yemi's sneer disappears as her eyes narrow. Her killer instinct emerges.
We stare each other down, waiting for the signal to begin. I worry Mama Agba'll drag this out forever when at last she shouts.
And instantly I'm on the defensive.
Before I can even think of striking, Yemi whips around with the speed of a cheetanaire. Her staff swings over her head one moment and at my neck the next. Though the girls behind me gasp, I don't miss a beat.
Yemi may be fast, but I can be faster.
When her staff nears, I arch as far as my back will bend, dodging her attack. I'm still arched when Yemi strikes again, this time slamming her weapon down with the force of a girl twice her size.
I throw myself to the side, rolling across the mat as her staff smacks against its reeds. Yemi rears back to strike again as I struggle to find my footing.
"Zélie," Mama Agba warns, but I don't need her help. In one smooth motion, I roll to my feet and thrust my shaft upward, blocking Yemi's next blow.
Our staffs collide with a loud crack. The reed walls shudder. Myweapon is still reverberating from the blow when Yemi pivots to strike at my knees.
I push off my front leg and swing my arms for momentum, cartwheeling in midair. As I flip over her outstretched staff, I see my first opening — my chance to be on the offensive.
"Huh!" I grunt, using the momentum of the aerial to land a strike of my own. Come on —
Yemi's staff smacks against mine, stopping my attack before it even starts.
"Patience, Zélie," Mama Agba calls out. "It is not your time to attack. Observe. React. Wait for your opponent to strike."
I stifle my groan but nod, stepping back with my staff. You'll have your chance, I coach myself. Just wait your tur —
"That's right, Zél." Yemi's voice dips so low only I can hear it. "Listen to Mama Agba. Be a good little maggot."
And there it is.
That miserable, degrading slur.
Whispered with no regard. Wrapped in that arrogant smirk.
Before I can stop myself, I thrust my staff forward, only a hair from Yemi's gut. I'll take one of Mama Agba's infamous beatings for this later, but the fear in Yemi's eyes is more than worth it.
"Hey!" Though Yemi turns to Mama Agba to intervene, she doesn't have time to complain. I twirl my staff with a speed that makes her eyes widen before launching into another attack.
"This isn't the exercise!" Yemi shrieks, jumping to evade my strike at her knees. "Mama —"
"Must she fight your battles for you?" I laugh. "Come on, Yem. If you're going to lose, do it with pride!"
Rage flashes in Yemi's eyes like a bull-horned lionaire ready to pounce. She clenches her staff with a vengeance.
Now the real fight begins.
The walls of Mama Agba's ahéré hum as our staffs smack again and again. We trade blow for blow in search of an opening, a chance to land that crucial strike. I see an opportunity when —
I stumble back and hunch over, wheezing as nausea climbs up my throat. For a moment I worry Yemi's crushed my ribs, but the ache in my abdomen quells that fear.
"No!" I interrupt Mama Agba, voice hoarse. I force air into my lungs and use my staff to stand up straight. "I'm okay."
I'm not done yet.
"Zélie —" Mama starts, but Yemi doesn't wait for her to finish. She speeds toward me hot with fury, her staff only a finger's breadth from my head. As she rears back to attack, I spin out of her range. Before she can pivot, I whip around, ramming my staff into her sternum.
"Ah!" Yemi gasps. Her face contorts in pain and shock as she reels backward from my blow. No one's ever struck her in one of Mama Agba's battles. She doesn't know how it feels.
Before she can recover, I spin and thrust my staff into her stomach. I'm about to deliver the final blow when the russet sheets covering the ahéré's entrance fly open.
Bisi runs through the doorway, her white hair flying behind her. Her small chest heaves up and down as she locks eyes with Mama Agba.
"What is it?" Mama asks.
Tears gather in Bisi's eyes. "I'm sorry," she whimpers, "I fell asleep, I — I wasn't —"
"Spit it out, child!"
"They're coming!" Bisi finally exclaims. "They're close, they're almost here!"
For a moment I can't breathe. I don't think anyone can. Fear paralyzes every inch of our beings.
Then the will to survive takes over.
"Quickly," Mama Agba hisses. "We don't have much time!"
I pull Yemi to her feet. She's still wheezing, but there's no time to make sure she's okay. I grab her staff and rush to collect the others.
The ahéré erupts in a blur of chaos as everyone races to hide the truth. Meters of bright fabric fly through the air. An army of reed mannequins rises. With so much happening at once, there's no way of knowing whether we'll hide everything in time. All I can do is focus on my task: shoving each staff under the arena mat where they can't be seen.
As I finish, Yemi thrusts a wooden needle into my hands. I'm still running to my designated station when the sheets covering the ahéréentrance open again.
"Zélie!" Mama Agba barks.
I freeze. Every eye in the ahéré turns to me. Before I can speak, Mama Agba slaps the back of my head; a sting only she can summon tears down my spine.
"Stay at your station," she snaps. "You need all the practice you can get."
"Mama Agba, I ..."
She leans in as my pulse races, eyes glimmering with the truth.
A distraction ...
A way to buy us time.
"I'm sorry, Mama Agba. Forgive me."
"Just get back to your station."
I bite back a smile and bow my head in apology, sweeping low enough to survey the guards who entered. Like most soldiers in Orïsha, the shorter of the two has a complexion that matches Yemi's: brown like worn leather, framed with thick black hair. Though we're only young girls, he keeps his hand on the pommel of his sword. His grip tightens, as if at any moment one of us could strike.
The other guard stands tall, solemn and serious, much darker than his counterpart. He stays near the entrance, eyes focused on the ground. Perhaps he has the decency to feel shame for whatever it is they're about to do.
Both men flaunt the royal seal of King Saran, stark on their iron breastplates. Just a glance at the ornate snow leopanaire makes my stomach clench, a harsh reminder of the monarch who sent them.
I make a show of sulking back to my reed mannequin, legs nearly collapsing in relief. What once resembled an arena now plays the convincing part of a seamstress's shop. Bright tribal fabric adorns the mannequins in front of each girl, cut and pinned in Mama Agba's signature patterns. We stitch the hems of the same dashikis we've been stitching for years, sewing in silence as we wait for the guards to go away.
Mama Agba travels up and down the rows of girls, inspecting the work of her apprentices. Despite my nerves, I grin as she makes the guards wait, refusing to acknowledge their unwelcome presence.
"Is there something I can help you with?" she finally asks.
"Tax time," the darker guard grunts. "Pay up."
Mama Agba's face drops like the heat at night. "I paid my taxes last week."
"This isn't a trade tax." The other guard's gaze combs over all the divîners with long white hair. "Maggot rates went up. Since you've got so many, so have yours."
Of course. I grip the fabric on my mannequin so hard my fists ache. It's not enough for the king to keep the divîners down. He has to break anyone who tries to help us.
My jaw clenches as I try to block out the guard, to block out the way maggot stung from his lips. It doesn't matter that we'll never become the maji we were meant to be. In their eyes we're still maggots.
That's all they'll ever see.
Mama Agba's mouth presses into a tight line. There's no way she has the coin to spare. "You already raised the divîner tax last moon," she argues. "And the moon before that."
The lighter guard steps forward, reaching for his sword, ready to strike at the first sign of defiance. "Maybe you shouldn't keep company with maggots."
"Maybe you should stop robbing us."
The words spill out of me before I can stop them. The room holds its breath. Mama Agba goes rigid, dark eyes begging me to be quiet.
"Divîners aren't making more coin. Where do you expect these new taxes to come from?" I ask. "You can't just raise the rates again and again. If you keep raising them, we can't pay!"
The guard saunters over in a way that makes me itch for my staff. With the right blow I could knock him off his feet; with the right thrust I could crush his throat.
For the first time I realize that the guard doesn't wield an ordinary sword. His black blade gleams in his sheath, a metal more precious than gold.
A weaponized alloy forged by King Saran before the Raid. Created to weaken our magic and burn through our flesh.
Just like the black chain they wrapped around Mama's neck.
A powerful maji could fight through its influence, but the rare metal is debilitating for most of us. Though I have no magic to suppress, the proximity of the majacite blade still pricks at my skin as the guard boxes me in.
"You would do well to keep your mouth shut, little girl."
And he's right. I should. Keep my mouth shut, swallow my rage. Live to see another day.
But when he's this close to my face, it's all I can do not to jam my sewing needle into his beady brown eye. Maybe I should be quiet.
Or maybe he should die.
"You sh —"
Mama Agba shoves me aside with so much force I tumble to the ground.
"Here," she interrupts with a handful of coins. "Just take it."
"Mama, don't —"
She whips around with a glare that turns my body to stone. I shut my mouth and crawl to my feet, shrinking into the patterned cloth of my mannequin.
Coins jingle as the guard counts the bronze pieces placed into his palm. He lets out a grunt when he finishes. "It's not enough."
"It has to be," Mama Agba says, desperation breaking into her voice. "This is it. This is everything I have."
Hatred simmers beneath my skin, prickling sharp and hot. This isn't right. Mama Agba shouldn't have to beg. I lift my gaze and catch the guard's eye. A mistake. Before I can turn away or mask my disgust, he grabs me by the hair.
"Ah!" I cry out as pain lances through my skull. In an instant the guard slams me to the ground facedown, knocking the breath from my throat.
"You may not have any money." The guard digs into my back with his knee. "But you sure have your fair share of maggots." He grips my thigh with a rough hand. "I'll start with this one."
My skin grows hot as I gasp for breath, clenching my hands to hide the trembling. I want to scream, to break every bone in his body, but with each second I wither. His touch erases everything I am, everything I've fought so hard to become.
In this moment I'm that little girl again, helpless as the soldier drags my mother away.
"That's enough." Mama Agba pushes the guard back and pulls me to her chest, snarling like a bull-horned lionaire protecting her cub. "You have my coin and that's all you're getting. Leave. Now."
The guard's anger boils at her audacity. He moves to unsheathe his sword, but the other guard holds him back.
"Come on. We've got to cover the village by dusk."
Though the darker guard keeps his voice light, his jaw sets in a tight line. Maybe in our faces he sees a mother or sister, a reminder of someone he'd want to protect.
The other soldier is still for a moment, so still I don't know what he'll do. Eventually he unhands his sword, cutting instead with his glare. "Teach these maggots to stay in line," he warns Mama Agba. "Or I will."
His gaze shifts to me; though my body drips with sweat, my insides freeze. The guard runs his eyes up and down my frame, a warning of what he can take.
Try it, I want to snap, but my mouth is too dry to speak. We stand in silence until the guards exit and the stomping of their metal-soled boots fades away.
Mama Agba's strength disappears like a candle blown out by the wind. She grabs on to a mannequin for support, the lethal warrior I know diminishing into a frail, old stranger.
I move to help her, but she slaps my hand away. "Òd5!"
Fool, she scolds me in Yoruba, the maji tongue outlawed after theRaid. I haven't heard our language in so long, it takes me a few moments to remember what the word even means.
"What in the gods' names is wrong with you?"
Once again, every eye in the ahéré is on me. Even little Bisi stares me down. But how can Mama Agba yell at me? How is this my fault when those crooked guards are the thieves?
"I was trying to protect you."
"Protect me?" Mama Agba repeats. "You knew your lip wouldn't change a damn thing. You could've gotten all of us killed!" I stumble, taken aback by the harshness of her words. I've never seen such disappointment in her eyes.
"If I can't fight them, why are we here?" My voice cracks, but I choke down my tears. "What's the point of training if we can't protect ourselves? Why do this if we can't protect you?"
"For gods' sakes, think, Zélie. Think about someone other than yourself! Who would protect your father if you hurt those men? Who would keep Tzain safe when the guards come for blood?"
I open my mouth to retort, but there's nothing I can say. She's right. Even if I took down a few guards, I couldn't take on the whole army. Sooner or later they would find me.
Sooner or later they would break the people I love.
"Mama Agba?" Bisi's voice shrinks, small like a mouse. She clings to Yemi's draped pants as tears well in her eyes. "Why do they hate us?" A weariness settles on Mama's frame. She opens her arms to Bisi. "They don't hate you, my child. They hate what you were meant to become."
Bisi buries herself inside the fabric of Mama's kaftan, muffling her sobs. As she cries, Mama Agba surveys the room, seeing all the tears the other girls hold back.
Excerpted from "Children of Blood and Bone"
Copyright © 2018 Tomi Adeyemi.
Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Zélie,
Chapter Two: Zélie,
Chapter Three: Amari,
Chapter Four: Zélie,
Chapter Five: Zélie,
Chapter Six: Inan,
Chapter Seven: Zélie,
Chapter Eight: Inan,
Chapter Nine: Zélie,
Chapter Ten: Zélie,
Chapter Eleven: Inan,
Chapter Twelve: Zélie,
Chapter Thirteen: Zélie,
Chapter Fourteen: Inan,
Chapter Fifteen: Amari,
Chapter Sixteen: Inan,
Chapter Seventeen: Amari,
Chapter Eighteen: Zélie,
Chapter Nineteen: Inan,
Chapter Twenty: Zélie,
Chapter Twenty-One: Inan,
Chapter Twenty-Two: Amari,
Chapter Twenty-Three: Zélie,
Chapter Twenty-Four: Inan,
Chapter Twenty-Five: Zélie,
Chapter Twenty-Six: Inan,
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Amari,
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Amari,
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Zélie,
Chapter Thirty: Amari,
Chapter Thirty-One: Zélie,
Chapter Thirty-Two: Amari,
Chapter Thirty-Three: Zélie,
Chapter Thirty-Four: Amari,
Chapter Thirty-Five: Inan,
Chapter Thirty-Six: Zélie,
Chapter Thirty-Seven: Amari,
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Zélie,
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Inan,
Chapter Forty: Zélie,
Chapter Forty-One: Inan,
Chapter Forty-Two: Amari,
Chapter Forty-Three: Inan,
Chapter Forty-Four: Zélie,
Chapter Forty-Five: Inan,
Chapter Forty-Six: Amari,
Chapter Forty-Seven: Inan,
Chapter Forty-Eight: Zélie,
Chapter Forty-Nine: Amari,
Chapter Fifty: Inan,
Chapter Fifty-One: Zélie,
Chapter Fifty-Two: Amari,
Chapter Fifty-Three: Zélie,
Chapter Fifty-Four: Inan,
Chapter Fifty-Five: Zélie,
Chapter Fifty-Six: Zélie,
Chapter Fifty-Seven: Amari,
Chapter Fifty-Eight: Inan,
Chapter Fifty-Nine: Zélie,
Chapter Sixty: Amari,
Chapter Sixty-One: Zélie,
Chapter Sixty-Two: Amari,
Chapter Sixty-Three: Zélie,
Chapter Sixty-Four: Inan,
Chapter Sixty-Five: Amari,
Chapter Sixty-Six: Inan,
Chapter Sixty-Seven: Inan,
Chapter Sixty-Eight: Amari,
Chapter Sixty-Nine: Inan,
Chapter Seventy: Zélie,
Chapter Seventy-One: Zélie,
Chapter Seventy-Two: Zélie,
Chapter Seventy-Three: Zélie,
Chapter Seventy-Four: Inan,
Chapter Seventy-Five: Zélie,
Chapter Seventy-Six: Amari,
Chapter Seventy-Seven: Zélie,
Chapter Seventy-Eight: Zélie,
Chapter Seventy-Nine: Zélie,
Chapter Eighty: Zélie,
Chapter Eighty-One: Inan,
Chapter Eighty-Two: Amari,
Chapter Eighty-Three: Amari,
Chapter Eighty-Four: Zélie,
Chapter Eighty-Five: Zélie,
The Maji Clans,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
OMGoodness! This book is everything! Thank you! How soon until part 2 emerges on the scene! Can mot wait!
This book has become one of my must reads in 2018. It was truly a breath of fresh air and a inspiring novel that I look forward to reading. Children of Blood and Bone tackles real-life issues that have become more concerning in the recent years around the world, such as racism, color, and the violence others do to people born from different nationalities around the world. The main character of this story is shoved in this becoming label and defined by others base on her heritage and the way she looks. Can't wait to read more! Plot: Children of Blood and Bone tackles real-life issues that have become more concerning in the recent years around the world, such as racism, color, and the violence others do to people born from different nationalities around the world. The main character of this story is shoved in this horrible label and defined by others base on her heritage and the way she looks. The story is centered around by the Magji who are born of white hair and were gifted different kinds magic by the gods such as fire, water, mind-reading, ability to summon light and darkness, diseases, raising dead spirits, and so many more. The once great Magji have become nothing but dirt beneath the Kings foot ever since magic has left the world. The question is how long you can beat someone down before they finally decide it’s time to rise! Writing Style/ World-Building Tomi Adeyemi’s writing style is unlike anything I have ever read. It has the power to pull you into the story in a detailed world and make you feel the struggle of the characters. You can feel the character’s drive, passion, and sorrow leak off of the pages. This world was rich in details and history of the world that this story takes place. The details and vast world she has created is unlike anything I have ever experienced. There was so much of this world shown and was done in a way that didn’t overload your brain. She put so much thought into each city, clan, gods, and magic that you are sucked into this world. Honestly perfection isn’t a strong enough word! Characters What I loved about this book is we get different perceptive of each character. We get to see how they struggle and fight to find where they stand in the world full of hate and oppression. There was so much character development that was involved that you will fall in love with each character. The way that each character slowly changes over the course of the book made me connect to them and feel their drive and passion. One of main character Zélie is a strong-willed trained fighter who is full of passion, fire, and hope. Zélie is a descendant of the Magji . Zélie’s people are forces to obey the man who conquered their tribe and murder those they loved. They are thought of as only maggots and treated as dirt because of the color of their skin and color of their hair. Zélie’s hate for those who have enslaved her people and killed her mother is the drive of this story. Her fire and strength to fight for those who she loves and those that can’t defend their selves is so empowering. When she gets knocked down it makes her willing and strength grow. Final Thoughts This book is a must read book that has the power to change your whole life. Trust me when I say this you need this book in your life. Everything about this book has buried itself into my heart forever and became my favorite book. I literally couldn’t put this book down, in fact I was walking though my house reading it when I had to do something.
Take all the hype about this book and multiply it by 1,000% because that's how much I enjoyed this book! The characters are wonderfully complex with well developed motivations and growth; I absolutely fell in love with Zelie and Amari. Adeyemi made my heart wrench so many times as I was reading. The entire book gave off an Avatar the Last Airbender (TV show, not movie) vibe that I loved. If you liked the movie Black Panther, you'll like this book. If you enjoy teens taking on a corrupt government, you'll devour this book. With a plot full of twists and turns, and a world brimming with cool magic like Reapers, Connectors, Burners, etc., Children of Blood and Bone has everything I love about YA Fantasy.
Children of Blood and Bone is a lot like a salad: they're combinations of random fruits/vegetables/plot devices/cliches that come together to form a whole. Some salads taste great, but then you have your broccoli-and-Nutella salad that's made up of pure blurg. This book is that salad. While there are great things in it, like, for example, the boat scene, the rest is a mishmash of tired cliches and overused tropes that authors think are timeless but have been, in fact, worn to a frazzle. Now, don't get me wrong. It's okay to use tropes in your writing. But for heaven's sake, mix it up a little. Enemies-to-lovers? As much as I hate it, that's fine to utilize as long as you do something other writers haven't done with it. That, in my opinion, is Children of Blood and Bone's biggest problem: It's overstrewn with tropes that the author uses the beta version of. Creativity? Nada. Plot complexity and unpredictability? Look somewhere else. In short, this book brings nothing new to the table called YA fantasy.
I loved how the author described everything, and all of the twists and turns that the plot makes. Anyone who really enjoyed Percy Jackson, or the Serpents Secret will be immediately entranced. This book makes the one who reads it stronger, more capable and prepared for life.
Bring on part 2 I'm ready
A story about enemies that became friends then family. Filled with love, hate and damn right betrail in a beautiful fantasy land. You never know who you will need in your life. So many twists and turns. Great great read!
Very enjoyable read, I'm excited to see what the next book will contain, loved the painful surprise twist, the author does a wonderful job building the characters personalities and developing their relationships throughout the whole book. I would suggest this to anyone for reading!
Amazing! You will not regret reading this book!
One of the best books i have read in a long time
This book is fantastic!
An intense and violent novel, that reflects the horrors of genocide and how ignorance bred from fear can devastate a nation. Zelie lives in constant fear. As a child she watched as her mother was brutally beaten and killed during The Raid, a mass genocide orchestrated by the King. Now as a young adult, her family is still spat on and overtaxed by the monarchies guards, all because of her heritage. Zelie's mother was a Reaper, a maji able to communicate and work with the souls of the dead. During The Raid, the King eradicated all maji able to channel the power of the gods, and severed their connection to magic. But Zelie's hair is pure white, a sure sign that if magic ever returned, she too would be able to harness the power of the gods. Because of this, she and the diviners that are left are treated like objects. But the gods have other plans, and Zelie is about to be thrown into the last desperate struggle for magic. Despite growing up as royalty, Princess Amari has never seen the diviners as less than human. Her oldest friend and chambermaid Binta, is one such diviner. But when the King comes into possession of a maji artifact, one that can awaken magic, Amari will witness her father's cruelty. Horrified at his actions, Amari will escape the palace with the artifact and come face to face with Zelie. Young and naïve, Amari will have to come to terms with her actions and become the Queen she never thought she could be. Beaten down both verbally and physically, Prince Inan is being groomed for succession. Taught to hold the safety of Orisha over his own desires, the King has also instilled in Inan the need to keep a strangle hold on magic. When Amari runs off with an artifact that could bring back magic, he must track down his own sister. But will duty force him to slaughter his own kin? Conflicted, broken, Inan will struggle with his mission and the deadly secret he harbors. A secret he is only just learning himself. Together, this cast of characters will either bring hope and magic back to the world, or destroy an entire culture and race. This was a fast paced adventure, where the characters are forced to come to terms with their imperfections. I enjoyed the depth of character development and watching each of them struggle with their inner demons. Creating three complex characters is no easy feat, especially with the depth of world building Tomi Adeyemi had to do as well. Poverty and oppression are brought to life throughout the novel. Your heart will ache as you watch the brutality and injustices inflicted on the diviners. And it is a harsh reflection of the actual world's police brutality against innocents. You will see a rich culture come near extinction, and cry out for its salvation. The only reason I did not give this a five-star rating was the fact I would not allow my teenager to read this novel. It is filled with genocide, attempted rape and violence. Adults would connect better with the concepts, and be able to understand the politics governing the actions of the characters, yet it was marketed to young adults.
Loved every piece of this book and can't wait for part 2
“On earth, Sky Mother created humans, her children of blood and bone. In the heavens she gave birth to the gods and goddesses. Each would come to embody a different fragment of her soul.” Wow. Wowowow. This is exactly the kind of exciting, beautiful, diverse, badass fantasy novel I want in my life. It kept me humming and hawing about what was going to happen, and the ending was so well done — the perfect amount of excitement, heartbreak, answers, and new mysteries. Zélie is a devîner, aka someone who has the genetics to become a magi. The magi are people who can wield one of the gods’ powers — things like fire, water, healing, and (in Zélie’s mother’s case), death. “Courage does not always roar. Valor does not always shine.” When Zélie was a child, the king severed the magis’ connection to the gods, stopped magic, and executed every single one. He left their children (the devîners) alive. They’re marked by their white hair and treated pretty much like vermin by the rest of the population. One day Zélie is in the capital attempting to sell a valuable fish to pay her family’s bills when Amari, the princess, crashes into her. Amari had stolen a magical scroll from the king — a scroll that has the power to bring back magic. They flee and, joined by Zélie’s brother, begin a journey to restore magic permanently. All the while, they’re being chased by Amari’s brother, Inan. He’s the prince, the captain of the guard … and a new devîner? If you liked Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, you’ll love this book. (And if you loved this book, you’ll love Who Fears Death.) So much strength, beauty, and power flow through the women at the center of both books. The story really dives into the themes of oppression and discrimination, of course. But I loved the way Adeyemi made the central characters polar opposites in terms of their place in society — devîner vs royal children of the oppressor. It opened up a lot of opportunities to examine the extent to which we can have empathy for one another’s experiences. That worked both ways: Amari and Inan could never understand Zélie and her struggles, but Zélie couldn’t understand them and their struggles, either. This tension was really, really well done. I can’t wait for the next one of these books to come out in a few months.
I loved every moment of this book. I was invested in the characters and the plot. It’s definitely a great read, and I’m looking forward to book #2 in June!
Content Warnings: childhood trauma, war, violence, death, slavery, racism, xenophobia/ic language, attempted rape, torture, self-harm, abusive parents. This book is an incredible debut. I cannot fault it at all. Tomi Adeyemi is amazing at her craft. Adeyemi's debut is true to its name. Children of Blood and Bone is a tangible text. Its world is very much alive as it is a reality that is very much our own.
Excellent recommendation. Not a big reader but couldn’t put this down.
Fantastic book - can't wait to read more from this author in the future.