Photo from @beautifulbookland on Instagram
Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The fact that Children of Blood and Bone is Tomi’s debut novel is mind blowing. Seriously, this woman can weave intricate mythology, magic, love and adventure into a story that will enchant and thrill you.
Under the orders of the merciless King Saran, the maji or Orïsha were targeted and killed in a massacre known as the Raid. The Raid left many children missing a parent, including Zélie, who was only spared because, as she was a child, she hadn’t grown into her magic. With the shockingly white hair that sets Zélie and her fellow Divîners apart from the rest of Orïsha, those who don’t possess any magic. The Divîners are referred to as ‘maggots’, and are treated as such; taxed to within an inch of their lives with no hopes of paying it, and then being forced to pay off their debt by carrying out dangerous manual labour. Zélie, with the help of an unlikely ally, faces a race against time in the hopes of bringing magic back to the Divîners by uniting three magical artefacts.
Sometimes when you get a book that’s really action packed, you find that the characters can be a bit neglected and 2D, but Tomi definitely doesn’t fall into that trap. Her characters are beautifully flawed and layered, and out of the three narrators, there were times where I disliked or was irritated by all three. They’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s what makes them such brilliant characters to read about.
We have Zélie, who has lost her mother and her magic to King Saran, and who lives in constant fear because of who – and what – she is. She’s – rightly – angry, which causes her to lash out and be very judgemental towards Amari. But despite all of this, she’s strong and brave and determined, and once she accepts somebody, she’s fiercely loyal. I really loved Zélie; she’s a treasure.
Amari is the daughter of King Saran, the man that has taken – and continues to take – so much from Zélie. Despite Amari’s sweet disposition, she’s often met with scorn from Zélie, but Amari takes it in her stride. She recognises her father’s crimes, and she doesn’t hold Zélie’s feelings against her. Amari’s character development is truly incredible – she goes from a cowering royal who can’t sleep on the uncovered ground, to a warrior, the Lionaire. She manages to push through all of her fears, and while at the beginning she sort of bored me, I loved her at the end.
Inan…oh, Inan. Inan is the older brother of Amari, and he’s so deliciously complex that I went from worshipping the ground he walked on, to wanting to push him off a cliff. He constantly battles with his lifelong loyalty to his father and his growing feelings for Zélie and her cause. I loved how he didn’t just have a light bulb moment and come to the light side; even after his revelations, he still struggles with his feelings and his loyalties.
I also want to give a shout out to a minor character, Roen. He’s a silver-eyed mercenary with a fox-like smile – he’s also a sarcastic, charming arsehole, and so he’s obviously right up my street. I have a feeling he’s gonna be important in book two.
Not only is the ending unnecessarily cruel (I NEED BOOK TWO), Tomi’s author note necessarily emotional and important. She talks about all the black lives that have been needlessly ended, and I was a mess.
I feel Children of Blood and Bone is gonna be a game changer for YA books; the POC rep is absolutely bloody fantastic, and I think Tomi Adeyemi is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Watch this space.
(And, in the mean time, READ THIS BOOK!)