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The Five Minute Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi


Pick me.

It’s all I can do not to scream. I dig my nails into the marula oak of my staff and squeeze to keep from fidgeting. Beads of sweat drip down my back, but I can’t tell if it’s from the morning heat or from my heart slamming against my chest. Moon after moon I’ve been passed over.

Today can’t be the same.

I tuck a lock of snow-white hair behind my ear and do my best to sit still. As always, Mama Agba makes the selection grueling, staring at each girl just long enough to make us squirm.

Her brows knit in concentration, deepening the creases in her shaved head. With her dark brown skin and muted kaftan, Mama Agba looks like any other elder in the village. You would never guess a woman her age could be so lethal.

– from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi


So, what’s this one about?

Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in Tomi Adeyemi’s Legacy of Orïsha trilogy. The novel takes place in Orïsha, once a land of magic and peace, with the disappearance of magic eleven years ago, it is now a kingdom of hatred and oppression. The novel is presented from three points of view, primarily from the point of view of Zélie, with parts being depicted from the viewpoints of Amari and Inan. Zélie is a divîner–the title given to maji, magical people characterised by their stark white hair, who have not yet come into their powers – and the novel chronicles her attempts to fight back against the unjust monarchy. Amari is a rogue princess who abhors the violence her father, King Saran, inflicts and sympathises with the maji, and Prince Inan is Amari’s brother, who struggles with being who his father wants him to be versus who he really is as he gives chase after his runaway sister. Children of Blood and Bone is an epic adventure full of twists and turns and diverse characters in a colourful, intricate world.

Who’s it by?

Children of Blood and Bone is written by Tomi Adeyemi, a Nigerian-American author based in San Diego. A graduate of Harvard University, she blogs and teaches creative writing on her website Influenced by iconic young-adult series like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and other YA authors of colour like Angie Thomas, Jason Reynolds, and Marie Liu, Adeyemi wrote her debut novel to feature a cast of entirely black characters and doesn’t shy away from hard topics like genocide and trauma.

Why should I read it?

Adeyemi weaves together West African mythology and the legacy of the Black Lives Matter movement into a fantasy world that explores real-life social issues and power dynamics in Children of Blood and Bone. Zélie, equipped with an artefact with the power to restore magic to divîners, is an emboldened protagonist with the ability to restore agency and power to those stripped of their identities.

“Samara.” Mother’s voice breaks into my thoughts, pulling my focus back. “Have I mentioned how regal you look today?”

I bite my tongue and drain the rest of my tea. Though Mother says “regal,” the word “lighter” hides behind her lips.

– from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone is much more than speculative fiction against a backdrop of magical characters and chimerical animals. A prominent theme of the novel is racism: since the disappearance of magic, the new social hierarchy of Orïsha corresponds with the colour of one’s skin. Royals and the gentry obsess over skin bleaching, as evidenced by King Saran’s ‘mahogany skin,’ and the impoverished maji and lower class are recognisable by their darker complexions, as seen with Zélie’s dark brown skin. As Adeyemi explores the arbitrary value of light skin over dark in a world where people have the potential to revive the dead and expel light from their palms, the reader is invited to examine their own relationship with melanin in the real world where the effects of colonialism and slavery still ripple through society. Children of Blood and Bone is an adventurous read that draws you in with its colourful, diverse characters and Adeyemi’s vibrant world-building.

When is it out?

Children of Blood and Bone was released on March 6th, 2018.

Where can I get a copy?

Children of Blood and Bone is available on Amazon and in all good bookshops.

Let us know if you get a copy, but more importantly, be sure to let us know what you think of the book!


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    The Five Minute Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi