Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Published: March 6th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, YA
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.
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“He doesn’t understand what it’s like to be me, to walk around in a divîner’s skin. To jump every time a guard appears, never knowing how a confrontation will end.”
“You can’t run from this Zélie. Not now.” He takes my hands. “This is the second time these monsters took our home. Let it be the last…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.”
There was a time in Orïsha when magic ran through the blood of the maji. But then the ruthless king took the magic away and slaughtered the people. He left the children diviners alive because they weren’t maji yet. Zélie watched as her mother was hung and killed and all the families are torn apart. From that point on Zélie and her people are always targeted, enslaved, killed, beaten, raped, and tortured. Then one fateful day Zélie and the princess’s fates intertwine and they have the chance to bring magic back. But the one problem is the crown prince, who has a secret that he doesn’t want anyone to know, is right on their trail to end magic once and for all. Zélie, Amari, and her brother Tzain have to race against time and face many battles to the very end and save magic and her people. This plot was truly remarkable. It wasn’t just a fantasy but a story that parallels what many black people are facing today. Zélie and her people have to hide in their own home for fear of what the royals and the guards will do to them. A huge plot point is colorism and classism. The darkened skinned blacks are made to feel unworthy or less than the light and that’s something incredibly prevalent in today’s society. It needs to be talked about more. The pacing was really well done and the story really moves along. It was incredibly intense and had a lot of violence and death. The whole story made me feel anxious and on edge because of the senseless brutality. You always worry not if something will happen to her and her people but when.
“They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us. Now we rise.”
“Yemi meets my eyes with a hatred that impales me like a sword. Though her mouth never opens, her voice rings in my skull. ‘Safe ended a long time ago.'”
Wow for a debut author I am shocked by the level of skill Tomi had in world building. We get the history of what happened in the first chapter so we are not confused and the story doesn’t drag. She created a tense atmosphere throughout the whole story. Besides the violence in Zélie’s world, the kingdom was described beautifully. I could picture her village, the palace, the markets, the temples, the jungles, etc. so vividly. I wanted to transport my body to this lush world. It was an amazing fantasy that was rich in history and power struggle just like the dust jacket says. Also, I loved all the African mythology and culture. I found out some of the places are actually some places in Africa and I find that beautiful. The author wrote many parallels to our society dealing with racism and racists. I think one of my favorites was showing the truth that no matter how far you go in life or how rich/famous/powerful/etc they will always treat you like dirt and less than them. Also, my second favorite was how with racism and colorism and classicism people who don’t go through that will never understand the struggles of someone who does and they shouldn’t act like they do. And you should never silence someone’s struggle.
“My duty has always been to my kingdom, but it must be for a better Orïsha. A new Orïsha. A land in which a prince and a maji can coexist. A land where even Zélie and I could be a “we.” If I am to truly fulfill my duty to my kingdom, that is truly the Orïsha I must lead.”
This was beautiful representation for black kids everywhere. Zélie was a powerful and strong black female character. She was brave, smart, and would do anything for her people. Her hot-headed nature and stubbornness could get her into trouble but it was what made her the one who could save her people. This was a chosen one trope done PERFECTLY. Tzain was Zélie’s older brother and he was compassionate, smart, strong, brave, and would do anything for his sister. He just wanted to keep Zélie and her people safe. Amari was the princess and she cared for Zélie and her people. Her growth was truly inspiring because she was kind caring and brave. She started out as weak and timid and transformed into this strong and brave future queen. I LOVED that the author used the I don’t want to be like the villain trope but switched it up on us and had Amari do what had to be done. I really love how complex Inan’s character is. There is a lot of layers to him because of his need to be the best king but also all the years of what his father has told him is engraved in his mind. He was truly something and it was a battle he fought until the end and his ending was what needed to happen. The king wow the king. He was ruthless, evil, and constantly kept me on edge. I felt his evil in my own head and the things he did to Zélie and her people was unimaginable. The other’s in the book were fantastic.
“It doesn’t matter how strong I get, how much power my magic wields. They will always hate me in this world.”
This was a true enemies to lovers. When they saw each other they truly popped off and fought and hated each other for a long time. For me personally, the romance isn’t bad at all it’s barely there. It has come in the last 200 pages and how the author made it unfold was nice. The ending was kind of expected because of Inan’s inner battle but I did like how layered and complex they were. As they truly learn about one another those layers show.
“You know how to win,” she says. “Just make sure you know when to fight.”
“You can’t. They built this world for you, built it to love you. They never cursed at you in the streets, never broke down the doors of your home. They didn’t drag your mother by her neck and hang her for the whole world to see.”
“Your people, your guards—they’re nothing more than killers, rapists, and thieves. The only difference between them and criminals is the uniforms they wear.”
“Fool yourself all you want, little prince, but don’t feign innocence with me. I won’t let your father get away with what he’s done. I won’t let your ignorance silence my pain.”
“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 would never fight back!”
“I rest my forehead against hers, and we sit in a comfortable silence, translating our love through touch. The princess and the warrior, I decide in my head. When they tell the story of tomorrow, that is what they shall call it.”
“Though my handshakes, I plunge the blade in deeper. Tears blur my vision. ‘Do not worry,’ I whisper as he takes his last breath. ‘I will make a far better queen.'”