“Oh my goodness, this book is AMAZING! You have to read it!” ~ My sister (Age 15)
TL;DR – Buy this book, read it, then buy it for all your friends.
RAGDOLL RATING: 5/5 BUTTONS
Why I read it…
I’ll admit right off the bat there were 3 reasons I bought this book:
It sounded pretty cool (Can’t go wrong with a bit of magical fantasy).
It was published this year – 2018 (Reading challenge category)
My library (with the exception of manga) is pretty monochromatic, both in terms of authors and characters.
I mention this to begin with for one reason. Because I initially struggled with this book.
I know I’m not the only person in this world whose book collection consists of almost exclusively white authors. It’s not intentional – but there is no way justify that fact that doesn’t sound terrible. And it IS terrible. The amount of POC (or any minority) authors I have been exposed to is comparatively small – and that’s a damn shame.
When I started reading, I was plunged into the world of Orïsha, and I am ashamed to say I struggled to picture it consistently. My frame of reference is ‘white people’ and it shouldn’t be. Every so often I found my image of these characters reverting to what I shudder to call my ‘default’.
BUT, not for long.
I usually struggle to imagine characters without reverting to the handful of famous actors I really like – but this wasn’t an issue while reading this book. The world and it’s characters were bought to life by Adeyemi, and by the end of the first few chapters I had a beautiful (and cruel) new world whirling around in my head.
Orïsha was a world of magic – until the Raid. Now Zélie wants to bring the magic back.
It’s a story about magic, evil kings and heroic teenagers – but it’s also a story about oppression. People with the capacity for magic (divîners) are born with white hair – before the Raid, this was seen as a good thing – since then, it’s has been something to hate. The peoples connection to the gods has be severed, and as a result, the magic is gone. Now divîners are ‘maggots’, heavily taxed and massively abused.
A young divîner, Zélie, soon learns of a secret ritual which could just bring restore her connection with the gods, and bring the magic back to Orïsha. She sets off, with her brother and a princess, on an epic quest to right the wrongs of the kingdom.
What I liked…
As I’ve mentioned, this book took me far out of my comfort zone, and plunged me into a beautiful, magical world. The writing is wonderful – it’s easy to read and the story is gripping. I finished it in 2 days – I think my sister read it all in one sitting. We were both hooked, from start to finish and begging for more!
I usually find I enjoy the plot more than the characters in most stories, but this wasn’t the case. The characters in Children of Blood and Bone and amazing. The two main characters (Zélie and Princess Amari) are strong women – both physically and spiritually – and the supporting cast is full of strong women too. This is also a refreshing change from the usual mostly male cast and (if you’re lucky) supporting damsel dynamic. But they are also beautifully written. The characters feel real – you understand their motivations and their desires and their pain. This is true of all the major characters – none of them feel like ‘set dressing”.
The premise is fun – magic and fantasy are an enjoyable medium – but it has this strong theme of resisting oppression that is really compelling. At no point would you say this story was ‘frivolous’ or a ‘fun romp’, it’s set in a fantasy setting, but the issues are hard-hitting and real.
One of my favourite elements of storytelling is world building – if an author manages to construct a world that you can really believe it is a joy. If an author leaves you begging to know everything about the world, the mythology and the people it is a treasure – and on these points Adeyemi really delivers! There is so much about the world of Orïsha you want to explore (and a whole world beyond). The mythology she has created (and I must admit mythology is one of my true pleasures) is beautiful in it’s presentation, and I could happily read any number of books detailing the creation stories and magical practices that are part of this book.
Finally, the ‘villains’. I am a firm believer that a good villain is not someone you are told is bad, and are left to hate without reason. The villain is important and the writing should reflect that. The ‘villains’ of this story – King Saran and his armies – are as well written as all the other characters. You see their motivations, their desires and fears – you are led to try and understand their position and I suppose, to make up your own mind. Well written villain makes for a compelling story, and this book does not disappoint.
(On a playful note – I also loved the word “Baboonum” (sp?), and have chuckled to myself several times as it randomly resurfaces in my brain!)
What I disliked…
I wasn’t a fan of some of romantic elements – however I must stress that this is because I find romantic plots uninteresting personally, not because they were badly written!
Other than that, I really can’t this fault this book.
Basically, I adored this this book. It is well written, highly engaging and left me wanting more. I have been able to recommend it to my younger sisters, and they have also loved it. It is listed on Goodreads as a ‘Young Adult’ book, however I would strongly recommend this to any adult who wants a gripping, fantasy action novel.
If you like magic, rich worlds and strong characters – buy this book immediately.
I cannot wait for the sequel!
Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!