Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: YA Fantasy
Read if you loved: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
Content warnings: Torture, violence
The first book in the Legacy of Orisha series, Children of Blood and Bone is a fast-paced adventure set in a segregated fantasy kingdom wrought by violence. At the bottom of the pecking order are the ‘maggots’, a slur reserved for the children of the once-powerful Maji. Then the Raid occurred – a horrific night that ended not only in a brutal massacre of Maji but also quashed any last traces of magic. Zélie Adebola remembers the night her mother was killed in front of her eyes, a memory that fuels her determination to survive despite all of the kingdom’s efforts to destroy those like her. And when a trip to the capital goes awry, that drive is transformed into a pursuit of vengeance, one that could finally restore what was lost. While Children of Blood and Bone offers what I love most about fantasy – wondrous world-building, fascinating mythological roots, and an energizing plot – the persistent YA tropes and predictable character dynamics reined in its full potential.
I have been on quite the fantasy binge lately (escapism, anyone?) and something that has stood out to me across all of my recently read novels is the incredible world-building, something that takes on another level when inspired by regional mythology. Children of Blood and Bone is no exception – inspired by Nigerian folkore, it brings a fresh perspective to the genre and introduces novel characters and histories that many readers may be unfamiliar with. It was also unintentional but very cool that I read this at the same time as The Girl with the Louding Voice (my review for that is up!), as both are set in or inspired by Nigeria, making it a fascinating synchronous read. The book is also written from multiple points of view – a huge plus point that enhances the depth of the story by providing readers with a multitude of perspectives. It creates a more dynamic reading experience, and given the jam-packed plot and short chapters, you will fly through this first book in no time.
I have to be honest – I struggle with my own criticism of this book because so much of it really boils down to personal preference. While I don’t have an issue with YA, this almost felt too YA for me. It’s filled with tired tropes, somewhat predictable story arcs, and the romances felt a tad bit cheesy for my liking (and trust me, I will eat up a cheesy romance any day of the week). While the pace of the book is one of its greatest strengths in terms of enjoyability and readability, it also felt a bit too fast in the beginning? I would have preferred more of a set up, especially for Amari, as it felt like her story really lurched into action quite abruptly. The character development was hastened, and I had a bit of whip-lash with Inan specifically. I understood where Adeyemi was coming from, but I never quite got there.
Lovers of mythology-inspired narratives and high-fantasy should give this series a try since the content and context is so interesting to read up on and learn about. I wanted to love this book so much but it just felt a bit immature for my taste, but that’s not to say it’s not worth a shot. It’s gotten incredible reviews from many readers and I would love to hear your thoughts – whether you agree or not!