So, a couple of months ago, I did a some book reviews on Facebook live. I thought, “hey – this is a good idea that could probably take off.”
And then I realized that I would have to comb my hair and put on some lipstick.
So, here we are.
Anyway, for the last few weeks, my free time has been devoted to Tomi Adeyemi’s first novel, Children of Blood and Bone.
First, let me just tell you how excited I was about this book. Ms. Tomi was getting lots of press before its release, and I was here for it. Every last bit. I mean, Ebony Magazine was calling it the “next big thing in literature and film,” and several sources were calling it THE biggest fiction book deal ever.
AND she wasn’t even 25.
Hell, I was happy for her – even while looking at my own life like,
Anyway, a good friend of mine sent me a copy (thanks, Davina!) and I got right to it.
So, what is Children of Blood and Bone? Imagine if X-Men was set in Nigeria, but replace “mutants” with “magi,” and start the book right after a major conflict which destroys all of the magic in the kingdom. So at the beginning, all people with magic are either dead or in hiding.
That’s where we are when the book opens. In fact, the first person we meet is Zélie, a young girl born with magical blood (which is evident by her silver hair), who is living a double life, so to speak. During the day she works as a seamstress, but at night she hones her fighting skills in an underground training camp run by a badass African woman named Mama Agba.
Zélie lives in Eloirin, a city in the kingdom named Orishá. She lives there with her brother and her father, Baba. But her mother, who was a powerful magi, had been dragged from their home and hanged by the king’s soldiers during the last big insurrection.
Meanwhile, in the royal palace, the King (Saran) is pissed cuz first of all, he hates the magic folk because some years back, they killed his father, the previous king. And check it, the previous king was this benevolent dude who like, held hip hop summits at the castle and gave everybody free health care or whatever (hell I don’t know…) but he was killed anyway by the “ungrateful” magi.
So anyway, King Saran has a son named Inan. He’s tall with an athletic build and has a promising career in his father’s army. He is also a card-carrying member of the “Make Eloirin Great Again” club – leading troops around the kingdom, rounding up groups of magi and harassing them and what not. So basically, dude is good on paper, but he’s an asshole. And on top of all of that, Inan is carrying a secret: he is a magi, and has been doing everything he can to hide it – keeping his head shaved to hide his silver hair ad suppressing his urges to get all magicky, because he knows that if his father ever found out, it wouldn’t matter who he was… he’d be tortured and imprisoned and maybe even worse.
And then there’s Amari, King Saran’s daughter and Inan’s sister. She’s young and sheltered, starved for attention from her parents who either ignore her (father) or constantly criticize her within an inch of life (mother). Amari is basically alone except for her one friend, Binta, an undercover silver-haired magi servant in the castle. The two of them are typical young girlfriends, giggling and talking about boys, except one of ’em has to bring the other one her tea whenever she asks anshit.
Well, Binta has been hiding her true identity from everyone except Amari, living right up under the king and his fine ass, crazy ass son and trying not to get discovered and killed while Amari’s still talmbout boys anshit.
GIRL IF YOU DON’T…
So, one day some soldiers from the King’s army show up and tell the King that they had just performed a raid on some magical folks and stole an artifact – a scroll with some ancient writing on it. Turns out that it’s magical, and that there is another item missing (a stone) and get this: if the two artifacts are brought together in a special ceremony, then all of the magi would get their powers back.
Okay, so somehow, King Saran finds out that Binta is a magi and has her dragged into his chambers, because he wants to see what happens when he puts her and the scroll together. When he does, there’s this impressive light show so for a brief moment, and the King and all his guys are like:
and then SHANK, he stabs Binta and kills her. What he doesn’t know is that his daughter, Amari, is watching through a crack in the door. So she realizes that her father is nuts and that she has to get away from him post haste.
Now while all of this is going on, Zélie and her brother Tzain are at the market hustling for some food for the house when a ruckus breaks out. During the confusion, Zelie and a disguised Amari bump into each other, and she says, “help me”.
Now this is one of those things that happens in books and movies that almost never happens in real life. Like jacking someone’s car for “police business.”
So Amari’s all, “help me, cuz I got this magic scroll that I stole from my dad and he’s pissed and if he finds me he’s gonna destroy it and all the magic will be gone forever” type shit.
One thing leads to another, and before she knows it, Zélie and her brother are caught up with this princess and all of her problems, which is basically the last thing Zélie needs, cuz she is already trying to stay under the radar because of her power.
But this is just the beginning of all of the mayhem and foolishness. Throughout the rest of the story, Zélie, Tzain and Amari are running for their lives, with Inan and All the King’s Men hot on their tails.
Let’s also complicate that with the fact that Amari is all hot for Tzain (and the feeling is mutual), and Inan’s powers are coming out in fits and starts, not to mention his telltale silver hair keeps growing back out, no matter how much Jermaine Jackson dye and Eco gel he puts in it. And Inan can’t seem to figure out who he wants to be – a soldier or one of the Avengers. And also time is running out – they have to find a boat, get to this particular island and then perform a ceremony by the end of the summer solstice that will bring magic back.
All in all, this was a bit of a wild ride. Adeyemi has a knack of writing fast-paced scenes with lots of action so that while this was a pretty hefty book, it was a fast read for me.
And what did I absolutely love about this book? Was it the way she used Nigerian-sounding words throughout? Yes.
Was it also the fact that the female characters were strong and smart? Hell yes.
Were there things I didn’t like? Well, I can say that I would probably hold off on letting a child under the age of, say, 13 read this because of the violence and adult situations. Personally, I don’t think a child should read anything in which a parent dies violently. Hell, I’m still seeing a therapist about Mufasa, y’all.
And I could kinda do without the flirting-thing between Inan and Zélie, basically because it was just implausible. I mean, dude was just trying to kill her, so…
But yeah. If you are still trying to read it (cuz I didn’t tell you everything), I encourage you to do so. And chime in on the comments and let me know your thoughts!