Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone (2018)
Tomi Adeyemi

On an alternate African continent, there used to be magic. There used to be healing magic. There used to be killing magic. There is no magic any more, as the king has silenced it. He has acquired all of the magical artifacts and taken them away from those who would use them – the maji – to ensure the “safety” of his society. Those who would be maji, who are marked by white hair, are now the outcasts and oppressed, powerless members of society, victims of a bloody genocide and subsequent enslavement and oppression.

They are called maggots, taxed into slavery, unable to organize or be allowed to live without constant fear of the king’s men and policies. And then, one of the magical artifacts reappears, and the king is unable to destroy it. Magic returns as maji get access to the artifact, one or two at a time — and they are desperate, damaged, vengeful, and suddenly powerful people. What could possibly go wrong?

This unique story is told at break-neck speed in three voices – Amari, a rebellious princess of the realm who eschews her father’s oppression, Inan, a prince who doesn’t, and Zelie, a young maji girl who lost her mother to the king’s genocide. Each character is incredibly rich, their voices clear and distinct and sophisticated. No one is perfect, they all make mistakes, and they simply leap off the pages at you, as three dimensional as the people you have known all of your life. There are too many secondary characters to count – Zelie’s bother and father, the king and queen, helpers and villains along the journey- and each one is round and full. You hang on for dear life as you follow them on their journey around the African continent, meeting exotic animals, getting into danger as easily as breathing, fighting battle after battle, gaining hope, and losing it again. The action is constant, the body count is high, and the journey is truly epic.

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Review by Andrea Terry, Circulation Staff

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