Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
*mild spoilers below*
When Children of Blood and Bone first debuted, literary friends gushed that here was a new series to fill the void left by the Harry Potter series conclusion. I scoffed, certain that nothing could fill that soft ache — the magic of Harry Potter blended my childhood with great writing that cast new spells every time I reread them (for example, I was on my 12th read before I realized the Mirror of Erised was “desire” spelled backwards).
I admit, I was vaguely curious but highly skeptical — that is, until I saw the beautiful cover during my Christmas shopping. That was I became transfixed by the girl with the silver eyes.
Children of Blood and Bone is the first of in a trilogy to be written by Nigerian American author Tomi Adeyemi. Set in the fictional country of Orisha but steeped in Yoruba folklore and religion, the young adult novel follows Zélie, a young girl who remembers the night magic disappeared, taking her mother with it, and her brother Tzain. It follows Inan, the son of the king who suppressed a powerful culture, and his sister Amarie. Children of Blood and Bone tells the journey they each embark on to restore, or demolish, magic once and for all.
It is a story of bravery, defiance, family, and (predictably) love.
Adeyemi excels at creating a vast new world with a rich and vibrant history. The magic is infectious, mesmerizing readers within the first few pages. The characters leap from the page, each with their own distinct personalities. And the plot is action-filled, fast-paced. This is literally Black Girl Magic, and it is beautifully done.
But because there is such a lushness to Adeyemi’s initial creation, it is jolting when Adeyemi dips into present-day mentalities and actions. With the stakes of the country so high, the two love stories seem contrived. And the world-building, so beautifully done in the beginning, breaks down as the story progresses, with the central characters becoming too contemporary. Though America is never referenced, and the reader gets the sense this is set in another time altogether without modern technology, a character brushes off his shoulder with what I sensed as a Jay Z satisfication. And two lusty teenagers make a sexual innuedo that high school students everywhere have made.
As I said, the teenage love was predictable — I suppose it may be a prerequisite for most young adult stories now. And even though a part of me yelled at the novel for it (“Oh, come on? Really? We have time for this right now?!” I might have yelled once), Adeyemi redeems the novel in so many beautiful ways. For example, the subtle changing of the hair. And then, of course, the tumultous ending!
Though it does not have the magic of Harry Potter, Children of Blood and Bone comes with it’s own unique mysticism. I am excited for the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengenence, set to be released on March 5, 2019.