Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
I’ve read a lot of YA fantasy. A lot. So much so that there are times when they all jumble together into one epic tale that I can’t quite distinguish from one another. It’s not to say that the stories aren’t good — they are! But there isn’t always something in particular that helps me remember that Princess X is from Story A or that Kingdom Y is in Story B. When I set out to read Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, I was ready to add another layer of adventure to my ever-growing YA fantasy jumble but CBB stands out wonderfully compared to other fantasies. It’s everything I love in past stories but with its own distinct voice.
What Is The Premise of Children of Blood and Bone
Children of Blood and Bone takes place in the land of Orïsha. Where there was once maji who could control the elements — Burners wield flames to their whim and Tiders have dominion over the waves, to name a few of the magical clans — now live a people who are disenfranchised and persecuted by a ruthless monarch.
The story begins with Zélie Adebola remembering life before the Raid, the fateful night when all adult maji were brutally slaughtered including Zélie’s mother, a powerful Reaper who could summon souls. When Zélie suddenly encounters Amari, princess of Orïsha, she is presented with an artifact that not only ignites her powers but is also the key to restoring magic to the land and liberating her people from the hands of a cruel oppressor.
As Zélie races to fulfill her destiny, she must not only beat the countdown to the centennial solstice but evade the crown prince, Inan, who is determined to see magic removed from Orïsha for good.
What Makes Children of Blood and Bone Different?
While this might sound like the makings of many a Young Adult Fantasy, Children of Blood and Bone is set in a beautifully imagined world that incorporates various aspects of Nigerian culture and is chock-full of people of color! Where other fantasy books might have a story that includes an oppressed society, very rarely do they delve into the intricacies of colorism or even the politics of having kinky hair. Something else that can’t be ignored while reading CBB is how Adeyemi draws parallels between the fictional struggles of the maji people in Orïsha and the very real plight of people of color in the world today.
As I read Children of Blood and Bone, I couldn’t help but feel something stir deep within me. I had just watched Black Panther a few days before delving into CBB and it was with that lens that I read this book. An action-filled, superhero movie full of beautiful Black people only to be followed by a book set in a world of even more Black folks shook me to my very core. I devoured this book and while some people might feel that it was too full of hype and not exactly a mirror-image of the geography and intricate culture that is embodied in Nigeria, those undeniable touches of Blackness throughout were mesmerizing.
I didn’t know that I needed this book until I got to the very end and read Adeyemi’s poignant Author’s Note. There she very plainly speaks of the brutality that people of color face everyday and how this injustice sparked the creation of this story. This spoke to me directly because I recall how much my sisters and I were impacted (and continue to be impacted) but these very same atrocities.
To find a YA fantasy book that so clearly encapsulates this pain and the sense of helplessness that you can feel by simply being a person of color… was mind blowing. And while Children of Blood and Bone does a great job of showing how there are times when you just want to curl into a ball and cower in fear, it does an even better job of highlighting that flicker of hope in each of us that allows us to not only persist but thrive.