Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic, when her mother was alive and powerful enough to summon souls. It was all taken away from her when the king one night suceeded in making magic disappear. That began the horrible mistreatment of maji people, where magic-users like Zélie’s mother were murdered. Zélie is determined to bring hope and magic to her people again. She gets some unexpected company of a princess running away from the castle and needs to go against a prince under the king’s orders, trying to get rid of magic for good.
Rating out of five:
Children of blood and bone, what a fitting and heartbreaking title. The story is clearly connected to current events and murders of black youth in USA. As I read I was making the connections to current events around refugees and murders of black youth in the US, and in the afterword the author clearly states that as her intention. Full applause for making it clear, there’s no hinting or possibility for misinterpertation here. The way magic is intertwined with ethnicity and racism in this book is also something I’ve rarely seen before and makes this work as an excellent fantasy book as well.
the few things i didn’t like
It was a bit typical that there’s one moon left before magic disappears forever, so all the events need to happen quickly which leaves little time to develop abilities. Very convenient for the storytelling, but a choice that doesn’t match the excellence of the rest of the book. Another thing I did not like was how the plot is furthered so much by group settling down with new friends, being attacked, a lot of people killed, which leads to guilt and some drama, before it all starts over. It’s not unormal in fantasy journey books and it’s done well, but it made the book more predictable.
I never started trusting prince Inan and after finishing the book I still don’t. Every time the brother Tzain makes his distrust of him and frustration of Zélie clear I’m cheering, even though he gets annoying at times. Zélie is a character I can fall in love with. I didn’t quite get there in this book, but so excited for her development in sequels. Amari, Inan’s sister and the princess, grew on me and the author really played with and twisted the stereotype of naive princess’ first time in the big world. I especially liked her story and the tension between her and her brother, where they struggled to separate what was their awful actions and what was them being controlled by a very abusive father (the king).
A thing that for a while seemed like could bridge the differences in views, experiences and politics between Zélie and prince Inan was seeing into each others feelings. I liked how it didn’t fix everything, it didn’t create instantly understanding or world-peace, but it’s laid out as the first step that everyone need to take. Magic simply made it easier for these two (I still am curious to know why).
“In that moment I realize how wrong I’ve truly been. It doesn’t matter if I’m in her head. I’ll never understand all her pain.”
Also can you blame me for not trusting Inan’s slick talk –
“With that desire, everything becomes clear. It all begins to make sense. We don’t need to fear magic. We only need each other.”
The feeling this book gave me: I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading long into the night. It’s definitely entertaining, but more importantly is how it talks about conflicts between different ethnicities, how both sides have done wrong, but only one is very visibly enslaved. This book contains a lot of good thoughts and ideas, my concern is that the young adult label won’t make it reach audiences that needs it the most. The title is so fitting in the point it makes that children from all the groups are the same, but at the same time one group has had much more of their blood spilled and that has detrimental results. If you want to give a, not so political as maybe humanitarian message, through fantasy this is the way to do it.
“You know how to win,” she says. “Just make sure you know when to fight.”
Now chaos surrounds me, pulsing through every breath and heartbeat. It sings as blood splatters through the air, screams as boats explode into oblivion.