Welcome back, fellow readers! In light of International Women’s Day, I am going to review “Children of Blood and Bone,” by up-and-coming POC woman, Tomi Adeyemi. The novel begins with a fight scene between the main character, Zélie and her female opponent. They fight with staffs, taught by the village elder, Mama Agba, to defend themselves from the king’s soldiers who come by to tax the village and rough up any people who have the gall to oppose them or be even slightly too successful for peasants to have any right to be.
“‘You know how to win,’ she says. ‘Just make sure you know when to fight.'”-Children of Blood and Bone,Tomi Adeyemi
These girls are part of the final generation of Maji, people with magical abilities, whose parents were all wiped out by the king, who feared an uprising. The people have been quashed, their spirits broken in light of the massacre and the loss of many loved ones. Those that are left, having been too young to have learned to do magic themselves, are shunned, any who deign to interact with or employ them taxed heavily for doing so.
“They dont hate you, my child. They hate what you were meant to become.” -Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
However, when a sacred artifact goes missing and Zélie’s powers are awakened, she is forced to go on a journey to liberate her people, with unlikely allies and the king’s son at her heels. The cast of characters, all with a rich backstory and unique motivations, along with the dynamic between Zélie, her allies, and the prince are both masterfully written and incredibly suspenseful to read. The magical abilities showcased are widespread, handled with skill and require little suspension of disbelief to follow. Adeyemi’s portrayal of loss, love and friendship in the face of adversity make this novel compelling and her refusal to follow the standard plots held within young adult fiction make for a distinct story unlike any other. This is one book that should be raved about, and most definitely on every readers’ TBR!