She pulls herself to her feet and palms the tears from her eyes.
“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.”
With that, she disappears. Her quiet footsteps fade into the silence.
Tomi Adeyemi, the Nigerian-American debut author of the 2018 West-African-inspired young adult fantasy novel, Children of Blood and Bone, is magic. Somehow she managed to weave the most stereotypical pieces of a fantasy story, systemic racism and colourism, a rainbow of emotions, her very own fictional land and language and so much more into a masterpiece of a debut novel. The book was written in the first-person perspective of three characters: Zélie, Amari and Inan. It follows the story of Zélie who lost her mother after the king had all of Orïsha’s maji killed. Nobody ever thought that they would see magic again until Zélie discovers that she has the power to bring magic back to the soil of Orïsha. The king’s daughter, Amari, is determined to help Zélie; however, the king’s son, Inan, believes that with magic Orïsha will burn.
When writing a science-fiction or fantasy novel, worldbuilding is essential. I can’t say that I have read many fantasy novels, but I do know that it is uncommon to come across a debut novel with absolutely flawless worldbuilding. It is clear that Tomi Adeyemi did a lot of research and thinking and imagining, and somehow she was able to introduce us to the most beautiful and highly detailed West-African-inspired (!!!) world filled to the absolute brim with magic and goddesses and melanin. Most noteworthy, she didn’t dump the information on us at all once nor did she scatter blobs of it throughout the novel. It just flowed. It was so elegant and well-paced. I don’t know what more I can say. It was stunning.
The author addressed a number of issues that are present in today’s society, namely systemic racism and colourism. These issues are brought up right at the beginning of the novel when Amari’s mother, the queen, comments on Amari’s skin tone. In the novel, nobles had a light complexion as it symbolised their wealth and nobility. Darker-skinned people were discriminated against, as their complexion was a result of labouring in the sun. This problematic way of thinking is quite rife in our modern society, particularly among the Indian community, but it has existed for so many years among people of all ethnicities. I admire the way the author drew so many parallels with our world, expressing herself in Children of Blood and Bone was a beautiful way of getting her message out.
I think that Tomi Adeyemi made a brilliant decision by writing the novel in alternating perspectives. I have found that doing this truly emphasises the power of the story. The character progression was masterfully crafted, and each character had so much depth and complexity. I really cared about what happened to each of them, even if some of them were annoyingly stubborn or evil or frustrating. Zélie’s and Mama Agba’s faith in the gods felt so real that I, a non-religious person, found myself thinking “the gods chose you” whenever Zélie was in a spot of trouble!? The romance involving Tzain, Zélie’s brother, was lovely to read as it felt so natural; however, I do have to criticise the other romance, which I found to be highly questionable and perhaps a little bit forced. Having said that, I am a sucker for all romance in novels (unfortunately).
I recently tweeted Tomi Adeyemi calling her the evil queen of cliff-hangers and she liked my Tweet, so I currently have a feeling of completeness. I am not going to give the ending away, but I can tell you that I had a jaw-drop moment. I always expect the unexpected in novels, but this ending was the kind of unexpected that is literally unexpected. It was chilling, and now I need more.
I have so much more to say about Children of Blood and Bone, but I’m going to leave you with only these thoughts. Children of Blood and Bone is one of the most incredible novels that I have ever read and it is worth all of the hype, so I highly recommend it. It didn’t get boring, the plot was constantly progressing and the adventure was epic. I should mention that I am not a fan of fantasy novels, which you can tell by the types of books I write about, and I only went as far as reading the Harry Potter series (the greatest series of all time, of course) and the Twilight saga, so excuse me for being blown a-freaken-way.
We are all children of blood and bone.
All instruments of vengeance and virtue.
This truth holds me close, rocking me like a child in it’s mother’s arms.
It binds me in its love as death swallows me into its grasp.