Children of Blood and Bone doesn’t need another review. It’s a #1 New York Times Best Seller. But. I need to talk about it, so here we go.
This story gave me all the feels. Feels so big I had to put the book down for hours at a time just to process what the characters were going through. I was stunned by Tomi Adeyemi’s masterful world building. It was the kind of exquisite attention to detail that lures readers in with promises of magic and lush writing, then contrasts all of it with the brutal reality of the characters’ circumstances. I found myself wondering at several points how a fantasy could feel so real and immediate. I think that’s what made it so special.
Zélie Adebola is a diviner (young not-yet-magical person) in the fictional country of Orisha, a land once full of maji (older definitely magical people) and their magic. When Zélie was a child, she witnessed her mother’s murder and the death of magic as it and most of the maji population were wiped out by Orisha’s king, Saran. Now a teen, she embarks on a quest to restore magic and save her people.
I loved so many aspects of this story. First, a fantasy world built on something other than European culture? Amazing. Adeyemi’s own upbringing and heritage largely informed the world she created. Second, Zélie was kick-butt heroine and flawed in the best ways. Zélie isn’t our only narrator though, and we’re introduced to Amari and Inan, princess and prince of Orisha. Though they’re siblings, they have remarkably different views on magic and the subjugation of the maji population in their country. I enjoyed the different perspectives, especially Inan’s as the chief antagonist through most of the story.
I’ve read some other reviews of Children of Blood and Bone, and most seem less than enthusiastic with the romance between two of the characters. Without spoiling too much, I would agree with a lot of the arguments against that plot thread. While I was reading a book about fantastic magic and a fictional land, it was the only part that felt forced. I get that it’s YA, and YA has kissing. But really, it was only a small part of the story, and one flaw I easily forgave.
I would certainly recommend this book to fans of Sabaa Tahir and YA high fantasy lovers of any ilk. Go! Read!