I have heard so many things about “Children of Blood and Bone” that I couldn’t wait to read it. So it was a great fortune for me that a group of fellow bookstagrammers decided to read it and I jumped right in to the buddy read and had a great time!
“Children of Blood and Bone” is a West-African inspired fantasy story, set in the fictional island of Orïsha. Once, magic used to rule the land. Burners would ignite fire. Tiders would tame waves. Reapers would summon forth souls. Cancers would spread diseases and Healers could take care of any wound. Not everyone was a maji, but those that had that gift were recognized since birth from their white hair. Diviner children would learn all about the magic to expect, something similar to what their parents possessed, once they became of age and then magic would show itself to them! Zelie was destined to become a Reaper, like her mother. She would be able to lead souls to the afterlife. But then, one day, magic disappeared and so did all the maji. But the maji did not just disappeared. They were murdered by the King and his guards. And so was Zalie’s mother.
Now, out of the blue, Zelie has one chance to bring magic back. She has tasted it and she knows that if she succeeds, all the diviners will be able to become magic again. If she succeeds, her people will be treated with respect again, not as maggots. They will not be imprisoned without a reason and they won’t have to pay unbearable taxes, because they would be able to fight back, to get the position they deserve in this land. The land of their ancestors.
Once, kings would wield magic too. But the gods have taken magic from them long ago, so the kings turned to the innocent, as if it was their fault. Now the King and his prince have set to make sure that magic never returns in Orïsha. This prince is the one that Zelie must fight, as he is the biggest obstacle in her path right now. But as their path grows, so do their feelings and Zelie is struggling to keep her mind clear and do the right thing.
With this kind of story in hand, one would expect an extraordinary story. It is indeed a fast paced adventure in the land of Orïsha, whee one can easily identify the depressed diviners as the black of today and those in power, the royal family and the nobility, as the whites of today. Amidst the escalation of the outrageous treatment people of color receive the past few years, the author decided to give them a voice through her book. Even though the story is not real, the behaviors somewhat reflect what we have been seeing in our screens and discussing all over the world. The message is strong and it is being put out there.
The narration is done from three different view points. The first is Zelie’s view, which gives the reader a very good overview of what her people have been through all those years and what they are still going through. The second one is that of Princess Amari, who Zelie saves from the guards putting herself in danger in the process. Princess Amari has done an act of treachery to her father the King and the country. So she is running away, joining forces with the people whom their interests she has in mind. And so their journey begins. The third point of view is that from Amari’s brother, Prince Inan, the heir to the throne and the one that is sent out to find his sister before anyone else find out about her treachery and to capture the diviner that is now considered an enemy of the state.
This high fantasy story captivates the reader with the promise of magic. It achieves in displaying only some parts of it, given the many different maji clans there can be. Zelie’s call on the dead is amazing and so is the connector’s power. The burners and the healers that the reader meets through the pages makes them want to get more. But this is a young adult story and in many aspects you could see the main characters for what they are. A bunch of teenagers set out to save the world. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the whole story, the idea behind it and how the problems of today’s Africa and those of the people of color are portrayed in the book. It’s just that I don’t really like the insta love trope and we kind of saw it twice, which is a drawback for me.
I will though read the second book in the series, as there was quite a cliffhanger in the last page that made me think there’s lots of potential the sequel is better.