OCHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE BY TOMI ADEYEMI
“I teach you to be warriors in the garden so you will never be gardeners in the war. I give you the strength to fight, but you all must learn the strength of restraint.”
“When your opponent has no honor, you must fight in different ways, smarter ways.”
Many bookstagram reviews of this international bestselling YA Fantasy all put the first quote without its accompanying second sentence on strength. This sentence cautions restraint, without it things can go wrong. Gosh! I’m enchanted by this novel. The last time I read fantasy that resonated this much with me was with Georgina Kincaid and her Succubus series by Richelle Mead and Carter and Sade Kane of the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan I dropped reading A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and Meet Cute (Young Adult Fiction collections) to read Children of Blood and Bone during the last week of July. I’d wanted to read some different after a long stressful day.
A world of magical wonders and brutal realities..Orisha. The narrative introduces one to the new Orisha where magic is missing and Zelie’s biggest worries include passing initiation and taxes. The old Orisha had Majis who were white-haired, Orisha Mama’s magic blessed, children of blood and bone. It’s amazing the fantasy woven around the Orisha gods was inspired by Yoruba deities. I kept nodding to the various magical powers each maji clan possessed from their sister goddesses and brother gods. Reapers who summoned souls, Tiders and Yemoja, Burners who blazed fiery, Healers and Cancer, and Seers. When various characters touch with a magic scroll it sparks magic in Divîners and Kosidans alike. You can take a quiz to find out which clan you belong to here.
This heroine’s narrations are shadowed by fearful memories of her mother’s execution and past beauties of magical Orisha. I was always pulled away from these to her meagre existence. Yet Zelie had a strong drive for survival and freedom. Zelie is impulsive, silver-eyed beauty, gifted Reaper, smart, seasoned trader, skilled fighter, leader and compassionate heroine. Amari and Inan, both children of the tyrant king narrate the plot with Zelie on a quest to return magic to Orisha. One of the beautiful things about these characters describing the plot and other characters were their unique personas. Growth of Zelie, Amari and Inan occurred slowly throughout the novel. Amari, the scared Princess grew bravely to be the Lionaire. Inan, Little Prince who sacrificed everything to be everything his cruel father wanted. He struggled with his sense of duty and being himself. Tzain, Mama Agba, Kaea, Nailah, Zu, Baba, Roën and other minor characters play huge supporting roles in this tumultuous quest. I was sad that Amari and Tzain’s budding romance was halted while Zelie and Inan’s passionate one was fervently frustrated. But I remain a hopeful romantic while waiting for a sequel.
Children of Blood and Bone mirrors a lot of real life issues we face in our societies like police brutality, racial or ethnic discrimination, gradual loss of culture, poverty and political tyranny. This mirror holds the themes and lessons one can learn from the novel. It’s robust plot was hijacked by plot twists, suspense and intrigue. CBB is written in simple English with Yoruba phrases and coined terms. Irony was one of literary techniques expertly utilised in this fantasy. Flashback and character dialogues were used to fill in the plot. Simile and imagery are two literary techniques artistically employed in this novel, (eg. the light’s voice is smooth like silk, soft like velvet. It wraps itself around my form, drawing me to it’s warmth). I found it ironic the King destroyed other families and his children while avenging his dead family. Another major irony was that Zelie hungered for change but was afraid of the possibilities magic could create. Out of the Eighty-five chapters my favourite chapter was Fifty-seven (plus the Epilogue of course). This chapter’s festivities and pet Lionaire Nailah inspired by book photo. Coincidentally it’s the author’s favourite chapter.
Landscape and animals in Orisha are nothing like anything I’ve read. Blue whisked bee-eaters, large panthonaires, snow leopanaires, stalking hyenaire. A map of Orisha is presented before the first chapter began. I enjoyed that the plot took us around that map and Orisha’s interesting landscape. It’s a highly recommended African Fantasy and YA Fiction book. For its plot twists resolutions and unexpected end of the last battle, four and a half fireworks! Did they succeed in bringing back magic? Did tyrant King Saran and his reign end? You’ll have to read to find out. To see more gorgeous book pictures or fan art click #childrenofbloodandbone.
Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian American writer and creative writing coach. Children of Blood and Bone is her first novel. Published in 2017 by Henry Holt and Company, a trademark of Macmillian Publishing Group LLC.
*this is a Flashback Friday Fiction feature review.*