Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone is a West-African inspired YA fantasy set in the fictional world of Orïsha. In this world, there are magic wielders known as divîners, or maji—people born with white hair who have power over the elements, death, life, etc. The white hair is a symbol of the gods’ touch, and the maji were once revered throughout the nation. As time went on, the love for the maji turned to fear, and eventually hatred among the people. This hatred spawned the desire to wipe them out.
11 years before the story begins, magic disappears from the land. No one knows how or why, but when magic died, the king over Orïsha wasted no time and attacked, killing every maji he could get his hands on. The Raid is what the mass genocide would later be known as, and on that fateful day, Zélie Adebola watched her mother die right before her eyes.
11 years later, Zélie stumbles upon the one thing that could bring magic back to Orïsha— the sacred scroll. If she can bring the sacred scroll and the two other sacred artifacts to the Holy Temple before the solstice, then magic will return. If she fails, then magic will be gone forever.
Children of Blood and Bone is beautiful, and by beautiful, I’m referring to the setting. One thing I love about books is they can take you to places you’ve never been and introduce you to new cultures and ideals. The world that Tomi Adeyami creates in Orïsha is stunning. Even though this is a fantasy novel, the setting felt real to me. I felt like I was there with Zélie and her companions as they journeyed across Africa to save magic. You learn a lot about African mythology in this book, which is so fascinating!
The cast of characters who surround Zélie are wonderful as well. Adeyami uses first person multiple POV for each of the four main characters in the story (Zélie, Amari, Tzain, and Inan). In doing this, each person is given their own story, which adds another layer to the narrative and allows the reader to truly care for (or hate) these characters. Not everything is black and white in this novel, which I love. I’m all for the grey.
Then there’s the ending. Oooh-hoo-hoo! I did not see the ending coming! And the last sentence?!?! Chills. I will say the middle of book can be slow, but the last third kicks everything back into high gear.
I enjoyed this book, but there were some flaws that can’t be overlooked. The first being the romance.
Yes, there’s a romance. A romance that doesn’t fit with what’s going on in the story and appears to have only been added to create unnecessary drama.
The relationship is literally hate.hate.hate.double hate.LOATHE ENTIRELY. Oh-my-gosh-you-saved-me! Let’s make out… (five points to your Hogwarts house if you get the reference)
What? Why is this romance a thing? Children of Blood and Bone would’ve been fine without it.
Another flaw in this novel has to do with dialogue tags. I mentioned this in a previous post, but it’s worth mentioning again. Dialogue tags are meant to be simple. Basic. You’re supposed to skim over them as you read. I don’t know when authors started getting creative with dialogue tags, but it’s getting to the point where they’re not even tags anymore.
Exhibit A: “You will, ” I try to soothe her (p 438).
That’s not a dialogue tag. I don’t know if the comma was a typo, but “I try to soothe her” is not a tag.
Exhibit B: “I’m sorry,” he apologizes (p 450).
This isn’t a tag either. It’s redundant since the reader already knows the character is apologizing because of the dialogue.
There’s also times when “interrupt” is used when a character isn’t interrupting anything, or it’s used when the reader already knows a character has been interrupted. It’s a lot of unnecessary telling when the dialogue would’ve been fine on it’s own.
This next one isn’t necessarily a flaw, but I have noticed it in quite a few YA novels, and it’s become quite a pet peeve of mine. Maybe it’s one of yours too:
Chewing the lips and “releasing the breath they didn’t know they were holding.”
When did this become a thing? I swear, I need to start tallying the amount of times characters bite their lips or hold their breath in YA fiction. I see it all the time!
Thankfully, it doesn’t happen that often in Children of Blood and Bone, so if you are bothered by that, don’t worry. It’s not enough to be annoying.
Children of Blood and Bone
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. There are some flaws in the writing, but the world-building is fantastic, the story is intriguing, the characters aren’t one-dimensional, and the ending shocked me. Overall, it was a good book, and I enjoyed reading it.