Adeyemi, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2018.
Hardcover | $18.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1250170972 | 531 pages | YA Fantasy
Children of Blood and Bone is a book that I swore off initially upon seeing the writing style (first person present tense from multiple perspectives). However, after returning it to the library, checking it out and returning it again, I decided it was finally time to try it again and give it a fair chance.
And I am so happy I did. One of the pluses, as is often the case with a well-written fantasy, is the world building, and I love its influences from Nigerian culture, setting it apart from much of what is out there in fantasy. And as she reveals from the author’s note, she also takes influence from modern issues affecting black people in the United States, such as police brutality, and these elements are all woven together into a wonderfully moving story.
I love how she managed to give Zelie, Amari, and Inan such distinct voices, so, along with getting their name as a chapter heading, you would always know instinctively whose head you’re in. I particularly loved Inan’s chapters and how they charted his evolution from someone who believed wholeheartedly in his father’s quest to stamp out magic (to the point of being an antagonist) to someone who would fight to defend it. And Zelie and Amari are both so well-drawn as well, with Zelie being a warrior, and Amari’s story arc following her growth through her journey.
The one thing I found a little off-putting was the romance subplot. While I am aware romance is a common feature in YA, including YA fantasy, it just seemed out of place considering the respective arcs of those two characters, not to mention the execution felt clunky and awkward. It didn’t add much in terms of emotional resonance for me, and it just seemed to be there because it’s what’s expected from the genre.
However, aside from that, this really is a great debut novel, although given all the buzz it’s received, I’m likely preaching to the choir. But I would still recommend this to those who haven’t read it yet, particularly if you’re looking for more diverse, unique fantasy.