Children of Blood and Bone is a fantasy novel written by 24-year-old Nigerian-American writer, Tomi Adeyemi. The novel was my second literary experience with the fantasy genre, the first being Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti:Home. The novel is the writer’s debut, and, same as Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti, a first installment of a proposed trilogy. I picked up this novel out of sheer curiosity. I had heard from a friend that a Hollywood movie studio was adapting a Nigerian-American’s novel and I couldn’t resist.
The novel tells the story of a fictional kingdom, Orisha, currently ruled by a tyrannical ruler known as King Saran. Before Saran’s regime, the practice of magic was lawful and the kingdom’s magicians were greatly revered. Under his rule, King Saran outlaws magic and goes the extra mile to ensure that “the evil” doesn’t resurface. Maji’s – those gifted by the gods with magical abilities – are forced to live in a state of dystopia. Reduced to mere diviners, this once revered group becomes purposely targeted for exploitation and subjugation by Saran and his forces. Eleven years into his reign, however, a resistance, sparked by Saran’s daughter, Princess Amari, begins. Princess Amari, elopes the palace with a sacred scroll, one of the elements needed to see magic restored. Fatefully, Amari’s and Zelie’s – a maij – paths collide, and the journey to the restoration of magic begins.
Children of Blood and Bone is a story of defiance, resilience and, most importantly, a story of hope. The epic afro-futuristic world of the novel is inspired by West-African culture, traditions and religious beliefs. Being Nigerian, that names of some places in the novel and actual places in Nigeria are facsimiles made for a more relatable read. Seeing names like Ilorin, Gombe, and the slightly modified “Calabrar,’ mentioned in this completely fantastical fictional world aided imagination. Also, I’m not sure if the mythology from the novel is true or made up. But, even if fictional, Tomi’s description of the ethereal world of gods was so lucid it could easily pass for true. Likewise, her telling of the origins of magic felt so compelling and believable. So vivid was the novel’s imagery that even the fictional Chandomble temple left me with an actual wanderlust.
I particularly liked the straightforward nature of the plot, it really worked for me. Even though the story was told from alternating points of views, switching between Zelie, Amari, Tzain, and Inan’s, the switches are, for a debut novel, maturely handled. The chapter’s character point of view notwithstanding, each chapter picks up right where the preceding character and chapter left off. This approach greatly helps the pacing of the novel, as it ensures that the plot continually progresses. And if there’s another technical aspect of Children Of Blood And Bone I loved, it definitely is the novel’s pacing. Running for a considerably lengthy 468 pages, a slow pace would most likely have been novel’s death. Thankfully, the author got that one right.
I should also mention that though the novel is a debut, Children Of Blood And Bone doesn’t read like one. The storytelling of Children of Blood and Bone was nothing short of riveting. But then, after going through all 468 pages of the book, I got to discover the novel was entirely a metaphor for the racial injustice and systematic oppression of blacks in America, and that the novel was simply the writer expressing her rage and frustration at the situation. This simple discovery was mind-blowing for me. It had my head bursting with fresh interpretations and understanding of the novel. Consequently, this existence of a deeper underlying meaning to Tomi Adeyemi’s debut is one reason I would confidently recommend it.
BOOK TITLE: Children Of Blood And Bone.
AUTHOR: Tomi Adeyemi.
PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR).
RELEASE DATE: 2018.
LENGTH: 468 Pages (ePub Version)