Children of Blood & Bone has been on my reading list for a little while. The problem with being a book blogger is that we never quite get around to reading specific books at the right time. I had heard all about Children of Blood & Bone, in particular, its references to racial discrimination, whilst encompassing this in a magical, fantastical realm.
I was concerned, as I had heard so much about the book, that it might not live up to expectation.
Never have I been so glad to be wrong.
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
I feel like I was late to the party in reading this fantastic book, but better late than never, right?
I love how the author was inspired to write COB&B based on current, modern-day societal issues. These things cannot be highlighted if they are not talked about; writing about it this way is prominent enough for the message to be made clear, but keep the story entertaining. Taking the problem out of context highlights the issue even more. When such things are so commonplace, they can be overlooked or ignored. Tomi Adeyemi has managed to balance her inspiration with a gripping storyline that stands alone in its own right.
I love the principle of magic system set up and the depth of history interspersed in this fantasy novel. I also found it really interesting how Zélie struggles with the morality of magic and the power it wields. Whilst it is fantastic for the natives to be in a position to push back against their years of oppression, that kind of power has consequences. This Zélie recognizes; she frequently asks herself whether that kind of magic should be wielded by those who can use it against the interests of humanity.
COB&B is a bit of a coming-of-age story with fantastic characterisation and development. I can see its appeal to the YA audience. Zélie is a complex yet relatable character, trying to find her way in a society that is built to use her and her family as slaves.
I enjoyed reading the story from multiple perspectives, as opposed to just one.
Each of the characters successfully blurs the lines that society has drawn for them. The nobility and the diviners should hate each other. Nobles are frightened of the magic diviners used to wield as it once challenged their opposition. The diviners hate the nobles for murdering their parents and controlling them. They are opposing sides of the same war when it comes down to it. One side isn’t better than the other.
I really enjoyed the book overall, but I will admit there are parts I am less keen on. The chapters are quite short, but rather than making the book easier to read, I found it easier to put down more frequently. I think it comes down to personal preference, but the narrative does jump around a little too much for my liking.
I have to work the quick mention to another, reasonably small pet hate of mine. The romance. I can see why it is necessary; the forbidden love across the two sides raises tension and adds a further layer of conflict to an already complex storyline. I get it. I just didn’t buy into it at all. I’m sure there are other readers out there that think it’s cute and secretly pray that it all works out in the end. Not me, if I’m honest. It’s not my cup of tea.
My favourite part of the book (and this is what keeps my rating at five stars) is how the narrative keeps the reader guessing right until the end. We know Zélie is our protagonist and that she is the “Chosen One” to bring back magic. There were several parts in the book in which I began to question how this could play out. There are plenty of twists in the narrative to keep you guessing! I find some stories are reasonably predictable and how they will conclude, however, this is not the case in this novel. Full of action, subplots and underlying motives, all is fair in love and war.