Children Of Blood And Bone is the debut novel by Tomi Adeyemi and was published in 2018 by Henry Holt books. It’s a dystopian fantasy novel that follows the journey of our main heroine, Zelie Adebola who is on a quest to bring magic back to the land of Orisha after it was brutally taken from the so called ‘maji’ by a tyrant King hell bent on revenge.
Good Reads Rating: 4.3/5
Lochanreads rating: 2/5
It’s been a good long while since I’ve read anything even remotely affliated with the magical fantasy adventure genre. Not since the Song of Ice and Fire Series of which I’m still waiting for Winds of Winter (I’m looking at you George). I tried to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was younger, but the brick-like immensity of unyielding prose on every page was a bit beyond my scope at that time. I’ve been wanting to have another crack at it ever since.
Children of Blood And Bone is a POV novel told mostly from the perspective of the main protagonist Zelie who suffered greatly during “the Raid” when the tyrant King slaughtered the magic practicing maji clans, one of which was her mother, and oppressed their diviner offspring.
Zelie is the archetypal heroine; a champion of justice with a noble cause, determined in her to resolve to bring magic back. She has a strong will and a couple of sidekicks. The only novel thing her heroism brings to the table is the fact that she’s black and female which admittedly is a demographic highly under represented in literature, especially in prominent roles.
To its credit, the book succeeds in the department of character development. For the most part the characters are fleshed out well without being mere plot devices; my favourite being Amari’s development from a weak willed scared little girl into a bold commanding leader.
The narrative is inventive in its use of imagery that depict dreamy and ethereal concepts. Another marked feature about the language is the use of allegory, for example; Inan’s senet pawn that in effect symbolises his desire to measure up to his father’s expectations of him. But here is where I get a bit cynical because inasmuch as I enjoyed the escapist prose, it became superfluous at times which seems ironic considering the book’s other-worldly aesthetic.
I appreciate what this book was trying to do; namely raise awareness of a much larger problem existing today. One involving oppression and child violence particularly in parts of Africa, but judging Children Of Blood And Bone as a standalone novel, I was far too disillusioned by the constant deus ex machina that was conveniently reserved for practically impossible situations.
I also got unimaginably bored with the long segments of exposition and talk of prophecies and quests, that I almost didn’t see it coming when as you would expect our main heroine was chosen to become the ‘messianic-like’ mamalawo.
The pacing was another issue I had. At first I thought the use of present tense was a very distinguished way of giving the story a sense of urgency but towards the end, it was like someone had pressed fast forward. Pivotal moments were happening in rapid succession without time to reflect on the ramifications because there was only 10 pages left.
I’m basically the wrong demographic for this book (and I’m not even that old). Looking back to my adolescent years when I was reading Noughts and Crosses and Girls Under Pressure, I probably would’ve enjoyed this book a lot more but the heavily clichéd nature of the book, the forced romances and the awful pacing left me cynical and wanting it to end sooner.
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