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.
TW: attempted rape, torture, physical abuse
This book is super hyped up in the book community, and has been for some time. However, I think the hype is a hundred percent valid and worth all the hype it has been given. This is definitely one of the best fantasy novels in young adult literature but also just in literature period. If you're on the fence about this book for whatever reason, I think you should most definitely somehow get your hands on this book and read it as soon as you can because although the size is intimidating, it is such an amazing read.
This book has three POV's: Zélie, Amari, and Inan. All three perspectives not only were essential to the story and really helped not only with the world building but the character development, but also I was never bored. I didn't favor one POV more than the other or want to skim a POV so I could get to the one I like. Although the characters could sometimes infuriate me with their stubbornness, I loved them and even when I was angry with them I understood their motives. Zélie is a such a headstrong woman who I absolutely loved so much. I knew I was going to love her the moment we met her in the story. Amari was a character I was actually unsure about at first but she definitely grew on me as she grew as a character. I enjoyed seeing her go from this scared girl to this fighter. I loved her slow burn of a friendship with Zélie and there is one scene close to the end (if you have read, you probably know what I am talking about) that had me bawling because female friendships are not something we get a lot and I love their friendship so much. Inan is a character I was full blown ready to hate but of course Adeyemi and her amazing writing made him a character you can really sympathize with. All three characters have their own individual character developments but Inan's is the most complex. The reader has moments of despising him and also at times loving him. There is one more main character, Tzain who is Zélie's brother, who does not get his own chapters but I still really enjoyed him. I love their sibling relationship and the way they interact with each other. There is obvious love between them but they also bicker and get on each other's nerves in a natural sibling way. Tzain is a great character but he also drove me insane because of wanting control all the time. He feels so much responsibility to keep Zélie safe that he can be a bit of a jerk sometimes. One thing about all of the characters, the three with POV's especially, is by the end of the book they all have grown so much. Zélie especially seems so young in the beginning and by the end of the book she's been through so much that you can tell she has completely changed. It happens so naturally and it's honestly heartbreaking.
There is so much action in this book. Children of Blood and Bone seems to have the perfect balance (for my reading tastes at least) when it comes to slower more character driven moments and action packed scenes. I was never bored while reading and I was constantly being shocked. Zélie, Tzain, and Amari are all on this mission to bring back magic to the maji but because they don't really know what they're doing paired with the fact that they're all teenagers it can get really stressful. Along with the friendship between Zélie and Amari, the romantic relationships that form are very slow burning and well written. However, I am not sure how I feel about the relationship Zélie pursues. Like I said, it's well written and because of that while I was reading it I was smitten but at the same time thinking back it feels like an odd choice. I haven't decided how I feel and I think the second book (or when I re-read) will help me form my opinion better. The great thing about the romanes is that they are not even close to be the focal point of the series. This is one of the few young adult series where the teenage main characters understand that there are more pressing topics at hand than romance, which I appreciated.
What is really cool is how Adeyemi tackled all these important topics like oppression, racism, and different racist ideologies within the community. I noticed a lot more than I realized I would, but I can only imagine the ones that I missed. Adeyemi is so smart at weaving these important conversations in this fantasy world. I am excited to start reading reviews (now that I have finished reading the book and writing my own review) by people of color who have read this story because I know I'll learn even more about the implications and moments I may have missed. I am so excited to re-read the book and learn even more. I also really liked how each form of magic (and their maji, the ones using the magic) are tied to a different god and that god's history. I honestly would love to know more just about that because of how interesting the whole thing is to me. We get to see a good variety of different maji but I am really excited to not only meet more maji with different abilities but to see them in action even more than we already have. Speaking of the different different maji clans, I recommend going to http://childrenofbloodandbone.com and scrolling down a little to take the quiz. I got the Eranko Clan which makes me a Tamer, the maji of animals. "Compassionate, intuitive, and gentle, you have the power to communicate with and manipulate animals." The name of god that Tamers are connected to is Oxosi and our aura is pink! It was so much fun to take the quiz and I would genuinely love to know which clan you get! I love quizzes like this so I think it is so much fun that it's available.
The world building is amazing. Something I almost expect now when reading the first in a fantasy series is that the world building is going to be lacking because the writer is introducing all the characters and just getting the plot rolling. However, Tomi Adeyemi does one of the best jobs I have witnessed when it comes to world building in the first book. I have never read a book that takes place or is inspired by west African and even with that being true I feel like I could physically see the world she has created, as the characters travel to different parts of Orïsha I would look at the map in the end pages of the hardcover copy and it felt like I could picture it all in my head as I read it. I also loved that they traveled on snow leoponaires and lionaires! I loved Nailah, Zélie's lionaire, so much.
If it is not evident in this review, I cannot recommend this book enough. I cannot think of a thing I didn't like about the writing or the story. I genuinely am aching for the next book and I cannot believe Adeyemi ended the first book the way she did and just expects us to be chill about waiting. I am definitely be keeping an eye on her social media more for any sort of news on the sequel because I need more. From what I know currently she has finished writing the sequel's first draft (I believe I saw that on her Instagram story!). Fingers crossed we don't have to wait longer than a year.