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.
Description taken from Goodreads
The most important thing I need to say about this book and my review of it is that my expectations for Children of Blood and Bone turned out to be too high.
*Review contains some spoilers*
Children of Blood and Bone starts out strong and gains momentum fast, but minor annoyances gradually irked me more and more. The hypocritical nonsense that starts at the Gombe river and culminates in A Stupid Decision That Messes Things Up made me seriously consider leaving the book unfinished. The conclusion is a cliffhanger too ambiguous to make the trials in the previous 524 pages seem worth it.
The setting incorporates plenty of details in the way the characters dress, what they eat, and how they live, but I never escaped the sense that something was missing. More descriptions may have improved this, e.g: I could’ve looked up a recipe for jollof rice to help me imagine what it may smell like, but I really expect a book to evoke sensations without me having to do research.
I already guessed from the blurb that Children of Blood and Bone would have a Trite YA Romance™ between Inan and Zelie, but I didn’t expect it to feel derivative of the connection between Alina and the Darkling in Bardugo’s Seige and Storm. Strong and interesting development makes Amari the most noteworthy character in this book although Zelie does have her moments. Inan’s story is tragic and ultimately disappointing.
The magic system incorporates the Yoruba spiritual beliefs surrounding the Orisha and ashe well but then it moves from complex to confusing. The role of the sentaro as the intermediaries for the gods seems like an unnecessary condition for the use of the magical artefacts. I don’t know why a maji can channel ashe but a diviner can’t and blood magic seems to be nothing more than a convenient power up. I’d forgive the lack of finer details as information lost due to the maji genocide except that Lekan could explain all of this at Chandomble.
I was expecting a celebration of Africa in this book but instead I got an intense conflict of hatreds. Which makes sense when you read Adeyemi’s note at the back explaining that much of Children of Blood and Bone was fuelled by police murders of black people in the U.S. A. It’s a powerful and moving narrative, but it feels like the other elements of the story were sacrificed for the theme.