Review: Children of Blood and Bone By Tomi Adeyemi

Synopsis

Zélie Abedola 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, Mali 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.” Taken from the book cover.

Review

Children of Blood and Bone is a West African inspired novel, with some aspects of Nigerian mythology and set in the fictional land of Orïsha. It follows our main female protagonist, Zélie, on her epic journey to restore magic to her people.

“They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us. NOW WE RISE”

This book has received so many glowing 5 star reviews and as such it was really difficult for me to post a very mediocre review. From my perspective this just doesn’t feel like a 5 star read, it stands out purely because of its unique setting. I spotted the novel in a bookshop knowing nothing about it and because I have an interest in Africa, and of course fantasy, I just had to read it. I knew nothing about the hype surrounding it and I went into it completely open-minded. On the whole I did enjoy it, but there are some aspects of the writing style which really bothered me.

The writing is a little simplistic and lacking in the gorgeous rich detail I love. The sentences are very short and snappy and minimal dialogue occubrs between the characters. “Skies” and “Curse the skies” used as swear words really began to get under my skin and it is persistent all the way through the book. Also stating the obvious, “The light from her hand grows until it encompasses all of Tzain’s head. Magic….”. The reader understands it’s magic and doesn’t need this spelling out. (I did have to double check at one point that I was in fact reading YA and not middle grade).

The fantasy animals, named leopanaires, panthonaires, baboonems, hipponaires etc, I feel lack originality, being essentially African animals with the addition of an appendage such as horns or spines. I just couldn’t relate to these creatures because of this and, in the case of Nailah, visions of a large cartoon-like lion with a couple of unicorn horns on its head kept popping into my mind. “Nailah, the faithful lionaire I’ve raised since a wounded cub. No longer a baby, my ryder towers over me, reaching Tzain’s neck on all fours. Two jagged horns protrude behind her ears”. I wish they had been more drawn out and described in much more detail because I adore a good fantasy creature.

The pacing is a little slow in the beginning and I’ll admit I wasn’t fully invested in the storyline until about halfway through. At this point, I felt it really starts to take a turn, becomes more action-packed, fast-paced and a romance starts to blossom in the background. I really did start to hunker down and enjoy the story, eager to find out what would happen next.

The characters are diverse and engaging. I love the growth and character development of both Zélie and Amari and the gradual onset of their friendship. I like that each chapter is from alternating character perspectives, I think that worked really well. Zélie is a good, strong female protagonist. I also have to mention Roën. I love his character and, although smouldering away on the periphery, I think he may eventually have a larger part to play, a possible love interest and a character I’d like to see more of in the next book.

Overall, despite my gripes with the writing style, I did enjoy reading this novel. The setting was very different from any other fantasy I have read and the colourful African culture shines through in several of the scenes. It is undoubtedly a vibrant story packed with creatures and characters, with a mysterious and intriguing magic system. I thought it was a good debut novel with lots of potential to really grow and flourish. I will be reading the sequel, mainly because of the cliffhanger. You can’t not after read it after a cliffhanger like that!

3 stars.

Published by twistedinpages

Reader • Reviewer • Blogger

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