Thursday, December 27, 2018

Book Review: "Children of Blood and Bone" by Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone has appeared on countless year-end "Best of" lists. After reading it, I can unequivocally say that the accolades are justified. This is a triumph of storytelling, and Adeyemi has built a fascinating world with unforgettable characters.

"They don't hate you, my child. They hate what you were meant to become."

Orïsha was once a land where magic ruled. Those with magical ability, the maji, could do many different things. Some could control water, others could control fire, some read minds, and some were able to summon forth souls. But King Saran was afraid of the kind of power the maji had, so he ordered their destruction. One night, the magic died, and those who were heirs to that power were treated as outcasts, thought of as maggots.

Zélie was young the night her mother, a powerful maji, was murdered, and her father was badly beaten. Their lives, and the life of her older brother Tzain, have never been the same. The king's men take advantage of Orïsha's citizens, raising taxes on a whim, and essentially working them to death. Tzain wants to follow the rules, but Zélie has a rebellious spirit, and won't surrender without a fight.

"He wants to believe that playing by the monarchy's rules will keep us safe, but nothing can protect us when those rules are rooted in hate."

It turns out that the artifacts that can resurrect magic were never destroyed. When Zélie and Tzain are on a trading mission, they rescue the princess, Amari, who is trying to escape the evil of her heritage. Reluctantly allowing her to join them, they discover that she has possession of the magical scroll, one of the pieces needed to bring magic back. And because she has magic in her blood, Zélie is the only one who can save magic and defeat the monarchy.

It won't be an easy fight, as Inan, the heir to Saran's throne (and Amari's brother) will stop at nothing to destroy magic once and for all, and anyone who gets in his way. It's far more complicated, though, than simply following his father's orders and proving his mettle as the future king—Inan has a connection to magic he cannot let anyone find out. But Zélie knows his secret, and isn't above using it if she can.

This will be a battle for the very soul of a people and the lives they were born into. It will require more strength than they could ever imagine, and the ability to let their minds rule, not their hearts, for their hearts could lead them into the most dangerous territory of all.

I thought this was a terrific, creative concept. It's tremendously detailed, and it took a while for me to get all of the characters straight in my mind, but I was hooked on this story from the get-go. Adeyemi created such a fascinating world, and even though you've seen these themes before, you haven't seen them played out by characters like these. There are a lot of accent marks over certain letters in many names, so I wonder if listening to the book would help clear some of the mystery of how particular words were pronounced.

At times this book was electrifying and at times the pace dragged a little bit, but overall, the story is compelling and affecting. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next in this series (it looks like the next book is due in March) and hope it recaptures the magic (pun intended and unintended) of Children of Blood and Bone.

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