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  • Noha Badawi

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Updated: Mar 28, 2019

“I teach you to be warriors in the garden so you will never be gardeners in the war.” 


I don’t know from where exactly should begin this review! This book overwhelmed to a stunned-in-silence point and I don’t think I’ll even do it justice with my words; I’ll try tho. But let’s just say that If you’ve had even a 1% of a smudge of doubt in your heart towards picking up that book, crush it! Pick up this book because believe me when I say that this is a unique high-fantasy novel, a one time adventure that you won’t get to find elsewhere.


Children of Blood and Bone follows the story of Zélie Adebola. A young girl who still remembers the thrumming of magic, she remembers a time when it flew with all its beauty and power; up to the day it all started to fall apart and magic vanished like a light-bulb suddenly going dark. Before it went away, Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But it all changed that night, following the order of a ruthless king, Maji were turned to a target, murdered and executed brutally in front of their families to make an example on the streets of Orïsha, to nurture fear in the hearts of those who lived alongside them, to enforce obedience. That night, left Zélie without a mother to hold and her people with despair. Presented with a chance to fix it all, Zélie finds herself on a path to bring back the hope lost ages ago to her people.


Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, March 6th 2018, Hardcover, ISBN: 9781250170972

“Courage does not always roar. Valor does not always shine.”


Long before this book hit shelves around the world, it was making an unseen-like-before buzz. And after it hit shelves the hype grew and exploded with people praising how good it is. To be honest, my hopes got high and I was super excited to see what all the buzz is about; specially after reading the synopsis; this book felt right in a way, like my sort of book. And let me tell you, that for the first time in my reading-life with all the gigantic amount of hype around this book, the story blew me away and turns out that all this hype doesn’t begin to do it justice. It might seem to you that I’m exaggerating, but believe me after you read it you’ll know that I’m 100% truthful about this.


Based on west-African mythology – something that we don’t find in fantasy books that much – COBAB is an all black cast novel, it warmed my heart to no end to this brought to life. Tomi’s passion about the story seeped out from between the lines, her true heart showed how she really feels about the story, how much she cares about it, love it and how loud the message she wants delivered is. The world of Orïsha was  rich, detailed and marvelous – it was so hard to believe that this is Tomi’s debut novel. Her writing is so well structured, so well put together, full with passion and emotion and it felt like this is her 10th book or something not her 1st.


Slowly and beautiful, the map of Orïsha began taking shape. Chapter after chapter we started understanding the world, its laws and politics, the history, the culture, the magic. It wasn’t even in the slightest difficult to grasp or understand. As vast and rich it was, it felt like this is something I read about before, know and lived through. Jumping between three point of views, we got to see the whole picture of the world, from different perspectives and different upbringings and it sure gave a wide range of how vast and glorious Orïsha is. Full of magic and adventures, it’s a place to marvel at.


“As it fades, I see the truth – in plain sight, yet hidden all along. We are all children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue. This truth holds me close, rocking me like a child in a mother’s arms. It binds me in its love as death swallows me in its grasp.”


The plot was heavily political, and tackled many social issues we see on the news every single day in the real world – something that proved to be true in the Author’s note when she explained what inspired the story itself. I loved how I could easily fit myself and my own mind-set into this story and reflect on it. The atmosphere inspired from Tomi’s own heritage, made me reflect on my own. Reading this book, diving into the world of Orïsha made me think that we desperately need more books like this in the world, one that encourages acceptance, diversity and ethnicity. In between the lines, Tomi talked about race, class, oppression, tyranny, diversity, injustice, abusive power, privileges given to some and others not… etc. For like what seems forever, we’ve only been exposed to only white fantasy heroes and now Zélie tipped the scale and rose up to the highest points on my favorites.


Tomi’s characters are nothing short of superb; she skillfully sculptured them out of her words and what came to life were strong and complex characters, ones who mirrored parts of humans nature.


“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. it was thinking we’d never fight back” 


I loved every single character, for who they are and for the journey they embarked upon to do what they truly believed is their life mission to accomplish. They portrayed strength, resilience and courage. Yet alongside that we got to see their fears, doubts and moments of vulnerability and this made them highly relatable and human. I loved Zélie‘s loyalty and stubbornness, Amari‘s kindness and bravery, Tzain‘s big heart and endurance and Inan‘s complexity and compound of emotions. They all have a long road ahead, but I believe they will get there.


“Good hearts don’t leave scars like that.” 


Every detail about this book was enthralling and impossibly gripping and fascinating. The magic system was fresh, uniquely executed and portrayed. Not a big fan of the romance, yet I swooned and giggled like a high-school girl – the grown up part saw how fast it was, yet still miles away from being developed. The characters were life between the lines and the story was stunning with a thunder-storm like ending that completely mind-boggled me and now I’m left with a tremendous amount of feels and pain in my heart at the wait ahead for the sequel.

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