Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Published by: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: 2018
Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
HB&W Rating: 4
View on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository
They don’t hate you, my child. They hate what you were meant to become.
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
Synopsis source: Goodreads
Over generations, love of the maji turned into fear. Fear turned into hate. Hate transformed into violence, a desire to wipe the maji away.
Wow. Just, wow. This book. THIS book. It is real, and raw, and emotional and sad and terrifying, it is so so many different things.
I borrowed this title as an audio-book from my library, but it has me itching to get my hands on the actual book so that I can actually read it with my own eyes and absorb the words that much better.
First, let me say that this audiobook version was wonderful. The narrator, Bahni Turpin, had a wonderful voice that was able to go from one character to the next with ease, lending each character their own indistinct voice in the narrative. Her affected accent was beautiful and lent so much authenticity to the story that wouldn’t have been there had I read it on my own.
You don’t have to be afraid—”
“I am always afraid!”
I don’t know what shocks me more—the power in my voice or the words themselves.
I am always afraid.
It’s a truth I locked away years ago, a fact I fought hard to overcome.
This is a story about institutional racism, oppression, marginalization, and the special brand of hatred that is born from fear and ignorance. It is most definitely a social commentary on the discrimination on the basis of race and also to a smaller extent on the basis of sex.
I think the sign of a good novel is when the author does such a wonderful job drawing out the character and story that, as a reader, you’re able to put yourself in the stead of the main character to such an extent that you feel what they feel right along with them. You can empathize in a way that might not have been possible if you hadn’t read the book. This book achieved that.
Zélie is a strong female character, fundamentally flawed, but in ways that endear her to the reader. Having watched her mother torn from their home and hanged because of something she was born with made a lasting impression of fear and rebellion against the perpetrators on the young Zélie. Her family ripped apart, her father a shell of the man he used to be, she and her brother do what they can to take care of their father and each other, to put food on the table, and find what little enjoyment they can in life when they have so little, until one fateful day, the day magic returned, the day their lives changed forever.
Setting off with her brother and her new accomplice turned friend, the princess Amari, Zélie journeys to return magic to her people, so that they may have the ability to fight back against their oppressors. On the run from Amari’s older brother, Inan, who shares his father’s fears and aggression toward her people, they find others with magic, lose friends, and find themselves, growing strong in their convictions.
Fool yourself all you want, little prince, but don’t feign innocence with me. I won’t let your father get away with what he’s done. I won’t let your ignorance silence my pain.
Through the lens of this story, we are able to see the many ways that ignorance and fear can lead us to act in a way that only continues the oppression of a marginalized group. Realizing what is happening and acknowledging our part in it is the first step to changing it. I love that we see things not just from Zélie’s point of view, but also from Inan and Amari, who have both been raised by the person waging war on the maji, and who have been raised to fear them and hate them. However, the difference between them couldn’t be more stark, and I love that we had this insight into their motivations and thoughts. Inan is ignorant, afraid, then all of a sudden confused, and ultimately weak. By contrast, Amari is aware, ashamed, and brave enough to fight for what is right when the only value girls have is what advantage their marriage can bring to their family.
I teach the way of the staff to any girl who wants to learn, because in this world there will always be men who wish you harm.
This was a wonderful debut novel, and maybe it will open the eyes of people who are ignorant to systematic racism where previous attempts have failed. And to add to that, this was just an entertaining escape from reality to a land where magic is possible if only you’re brave enough to harness it.
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