When I heard of Tomi Adeyemi’s forthcoming trilogy based on Yoruba religion I was immediately hooked. For those who don’t know, the complex system of beliefs and deities while originating (and still practised) in West Africa spread to the new world with the slave trade, becoming syncretised with other beliefs into religions such as Santeria and Candomble. The dedication and spirituality required to hold on to one’s beliefs when transported as a slave with literally nothing–no texts, no ritual objects, few elders– is incredible.
And Children of Blood and Bone did not disappoint. Adeyemi’s book weaves the existing religion into a new story, one where magi or magicians were once prevalent in Orisha (the name of the land, also of some forms of the religion and its deities). But following strife between magi and non-magi, the ruling king ordered all magi older than thirteen to be killed, thus eradicating magic.
Zelie is one of the magi, her white hair making this obvious. Her mother, who died in the King’s ethnic cleansing, was a Reaper, but Zelie has no magic powers–until at market, she bumps into Amari, a princess on the run.
Amari has stolen a scroll given to her father the king, to destroy. The scroll promises to bring magic back to Orisha and Zelie is determined to protect it from the King’s guards–even if it means she’s saddled with a princess to protect too.
The pace is thrilling, with dramatic action-filled sequences as Zelie and Amari, joined by Zelie’s brother and pursued by Amari’s brother Inan, the heir to the throne, make their way to a hidden temple, collecting various artefacts required for a ceremony to restore magic to Orisha once and for all.
Zelie has doubts about the powers unleashed by the return of magic–will it really be a force for good? I really liked these hesitations and how she considers the consequences of her actions. Zelie is a strong, loving and vulnerable girl at the same time as being a magician. Amari and Inan, the other point-of-view characters we follow are also well-portrayed, particularly Inan and his character’s moral twists and turns.
An awesome book that fully deserves all the praise heaped upon it.
Did anyone say Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games meets Black Panther yet?
Because if not, I’m going to call it. 11+