Three Reasons You Should Read “Children of Blood and Bone”

Sydney Gager, Editor

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To prepare for Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the recently-released second book in Tomi Adeyemi’s Legacy of Orïsha trilogy, I reread Children of Blood and Bone. If you haven’t read it, I’m here to tell you three reasons why you should. 

      1. Beautiful Book (AKA Amazing Character Development and World Building)

It might be obvious that I’m recommending a book because it’s great, but there are many reasons this book is amazing. 

Before I explain these, let me set up the book’s premise. In the land of Orïsha, magic has been destroyed by a vengeful king. When Zélie’s own magic returns and she has the chance to bring it back for all her people, she jumps on the chance to bring down the oppressive monarchy. With Princess Amari on her side and Prince Inan in pursuit, Children of Blood and Bone follows Zélie in her race to bring magic–and an end of oppression–to her people.

While I think this is an exciting set up, you might be wondering why this is all that different from other YA fantasy novels. I believe the plot itself stands up against other books, but since I can’t explain that (why would you read the book if I spoiled it?) I’ll give you two other reasons: the characters and the world building.

The book is narrated by Zélie, Amari, and Inan. Every day Zélie is reminded of why she hates the monarchy, both by current injustices and flashbacks to her mother’s violent death. This is her drive as she struggles against her impulsivity and attempts to use her new powers to do what’s best for her people. Amari spent most of her life believing her father’s lies about the horrors of magic, but when she witnesses an injustice first hand, she goes against her upbringing and must prove (to herself and Zélie) that she is more than a spoiled princess. Inan has never questioned his father’s hatred of magic, but as he chases after his sister and begins to understand Zélie’s view, he’s forced to wonder if he’s on the right side of the fight. As well as a rich inner dialogue from each narrator, side characters are beautifully written as well. Whether they’re featured sparingly, like Zélie’s mentor Mama Agba, or help on the quest, like Zélie’s brother Tzain, each character has a clear purpose and point of view.

The world building is exceptional. Orïsha is not a vague place, it is a fictional kingdom of West Africa with a clear social hierarchy and history. In the beginning of the book–after the gorgeous map of Orïsha–the kingdom’s ten magical clans are explained. They each have a deity associated with their type of magic. While Children of Blood and Bone only deeply explores Reaper magic–Zélie’s power to connect with the spirits of the dead–and connector magic–which allows for mind reading and tapping into dreams–the second book of the trilogy explores each type further. There’s even an online quiz you can take to find out which clan you would be a part of, so that you can connect more deeply with the magical lore. 

      2. Movie in the Making

Don’t wait until the movie is released to decide whether you want to start by reading or watching Children of Blood and Bone. Read it now so that you can enjoy the magic and then hope the movie lives up to it. Whether the movie can capture the book’s level of detail, or not, at the very least it’s exciting that a movie is in production that should be filmed with only people of color (because the African culture is essential to the series and white washing it would erase this).  

      3. Social Commentary

This book was unique enough with a lore deeply tied to African religions, but Tomi Adeyemi wrote it to say more. She explains, at the very end of the book, how if you feel for the characters, then you should feel for those in real-life oppression. She goes so far as to cite certain events of police brutality and racism. Entertainment Weekly calls Tomi Adeyemi “the new J.K. Rowling” which is certainly accurate in terms of world building, beautiful characters, and intriguing plots. But while Harry Potter is very anti-racist, after a few too many Twitter controversies, Rowling isn’t known for her social consciousness. Hopefully as her writing continues to grow in popularity, Adeyemi will continue to share her revolutionary social commentary. 

The New York Times says that Children of Blood and Bone “poses thought-provoking questions about race, class, and authority that hold up a warning mirror to our sharply divided society.” So if you’re looking for entertainment that can be deep, this book is great because the social commentary is easily accessible (but not over the top either).

If you pick up this the Legacy of Orïsha series you will have to wait for the third (and final) installment, but trust me, it’ll be worth it. I’m slowly making my way through Children of Virtue and Vengeance (trying to savor every little bit) and already it has the potential to be better than the first, which I previously hadn’t thought possible. So please, read Children of Blood and Bone. You won’t regret it.