The first book in a new fantasy series and debut from Adeyemi, "Children of Blood and Bone," is a unique story that follows complex characters as they set out on a quest to bring back magic. Inspire by West African mythology and setting, the story also largely focuses on racial discrimination, fearmongering and power. As our protagonists journey across a lavishly described and developed world-setting, they are hunted by the King and Crown Prince, both who are terrified by the prospect of magic returning, as it threatens to upend the control they have established. Loathe to relinquish control, they kill anyone who stands in their way, destroying generations of magic-wielders and their families and livelihoods, leaving the kingdom of Orisha in a devastating class system marked by skin tone and magical aptitude. Throughout this novel, the female protagonists -- Zelie and Amira -- work to break down these class barriers as Zelie, the only saviour of magic, accepts a power that is beyond that of even the Crown Prince, and Amira, the runaway, lighter-skinned princess, becomes an integral part of Zelie’s fight, overcoming her own strongly entrenched racial prejudices and fears to recognise the reality of her father’s malignant rule and her kingdom’s destruction. Together, they are an inspirational and empowering duo who grow to respect and admire each other, working towards a common goal, fearlessly fighting for what they know to be right. Amira, in particular, is a fascinating example of skilful character development on Adeyemi’s part.
Despite the perceived thickness of this novel, it reads quickly and will keep you on your toes throughout. With a plethora of plot twists, many well-crafted fight scenes and both funny and heart-wrenching dialogue, this novel is not a drag in the slightest. The ending, in particular, will leave you breathless. You’ve been warned…. The magic system of this novel is so interesting. Whilst complex, it is clearly defined and explained and includes a handy guide to refer to throughout the novel. Each maji has a distinctive power or abilities that places them into one of 10 magic groups, tying them as brother or as sister of one of their Gods or Goddesses. These powers include the ability to summon shadow spirits from the dead, flames from one’s hands, weld metal, read minds and dreams and many more. I am extremely intrigued and looking forward to seeing how this integral part of the story is further developed in the books to come.
Finishing on a major cliff-hanger, I cannot believe we have to wait a whole year to read the continuation in the Legacy of Orisha series, however I truly believe it is worth the wait. Already optioned for a movie, this novel has received a lot of buzz in the book community since its release and it is entirely deserved.