Wow. This book has me feeling a lot of things.
Children of Blood and Bone takes place in such an incredible, inventive world, and I thought it was really well crafted. Tomi Adeyemi really did a fantastic job explaining and describing the magic within this realm. Each scene was so beautiful and rich in my mind, and I felt like it was a feast for the eyes within my mind. I’m also stoked that it is in the works to become an on-screen adaptation. This is truly a perfect book to be brought to life.
The characters in this book were absolutely beautiful. We start off with Zélie, who I really connected with. She has a spark of anger in her to fight back against the monarchy in any way she can after they killed her mother 11 years ago. It is what fuels her every move, the reason she wants to learn how to fight with a staff. She is a diviner, a child of a maji, someone who should have been blessed with magic it if hadn’t been taken away by the king. Every day is dangerous for her and her family, and yet she doesn’t let that danger keep her from fighting for what is right and just. I love her strength, and I admire her desire to fight. She’s scared, she knows she’s not perfect, and she questions the gods when she learns that she must be the one to bring back magic to her people… yet she continues to fight for justice.
Amari is someone I can also relate to, maybe on a much more personal level than Zélie. She’s grown up in the shelter of the castle, away from the realities of the world. She only knows her father’s wrath and hatred, and she’s been brought up in a world of lies about magic and diviners. The only diviner she knows is sweet Binta, her servant, and it is when she watches her father murder Binta for having magic that she panics and runs away. When she meets Zélie and Tzain, she is still very ignorant of the way her father runs the kingdom, and how the diviners are treated in the stocks. As she becomes painfully aware of the dangers and unfair treatment of diviners, she realizes she wants to do everything she can to help right her father’s wrongs. She accepts the fact that her family is responsible for the pain and suffering of all diviners and maji, if only for the reason that they were different and the king saw that difference as a threat. Amari is terrified of her father, but she grows in her confidence and strength and she fiercely fights alongside Zélie and Tzain to bring magic back. I loved the friendship that formed between her and Zélie towards the end of the novel, and my favorite part of the story was when Zélie comes to Amari for strength when her magic disappeared. Both girls pushed the other out of their comfort zone in different parts of the story, and I’m here for their friendship.
Inan… Inan, Inan, Inan. There never was a more frustrating character. I think he made me the most sad throughout this book. He was also brought up in the castle full of lies about maji, but he was a son desperate for his father’s approval. Because of his desperation to win over his father and prove his worth as a future king, he drank up the hateful koolaid that his father spewed about maji and diviners. Even when he had his doubts about his father’s methods, he couldn’t shake those lies and he still was willfully ignorant towards the end of the book. The most frustrating part was that he learned from Zélie about maji and diviners, and he was even a maji himself!!! Dude, quit hating yourself just because of something you don’t understand. I thought he could be saved when he finally connected with Zélie and saw how wonderful and special magic truly is… then he saw how destructive it could be and still had faith that he could fight against his father without magic. At that point, he truly should have realized how hateful his father was and how nothing was going to change his mind about maji and diviners. It sadly took his father killing him to realize this, and for this I pity him.
Speaking of which, is he truly dead? I’m slightly confused about the ending of this story. Zélie performs a ritual of her own, channeling spirits in order to reach the Sky Mother and bring back magic. She ultimately “dies” and talks with her mother in this sort-of-in-between realm, where her mother resembles Oya, the goddess of the Reapers. Her mother tells her she needs to go back to the land of the living to continue to fight for magic, and Zélie wakes up on a boat with her crew. She asks if her ritual works, and no one gives her a straight answer… and Amari now has a streak of white in her hair and seems to have the Connector powers that her brother had. And bam! that’s it. Talk about a cliffhanger… I immediately ordered the second book, and I’m hoping it clears up the ending of this first book. I can’t wait to see what Zélie, Tzain, and Amari do next in this fight that has only just begun.
I strongly encourage everyone who read this book to read the author’s note at the end of the story. As she said, it’s easy to read this fantasy about the fight against oppression, it’s easy to hope the best for our crew to bring back magic and establish a land where hate doesn’t belong. It’s also easy to be sad for the characters within this story to die wrongful deaths because of ignorance and hate. However, we live in a much darker reality, where black people have been oppressed throughout our country’s history and have been wrongfully mistreated and murdered by police. They continue to be murdered by police and let down by our justice system. Black lives matter, they have always mattered, and they will continue to matter. We can’t stop fighting for their rights as human beings, just because we’re uncomfortable with the situation. It’s not as easy as closing the pages of this book; we are not done with this story and this fight. I am white, and I will never pretend to know what it’s like to be a black person in this country. What I can do, though, is educate myself, listen to others, and fight against hate and racism. I encourage you all to do the same. As Tomi Adeyemi says, “we are all children of blood and bone”, and the power to fight evil exists within us.