Sometimes, it’s hard to review a book. You sit down to write a review, and (if you love it) you ask yourself, “what parts of the book am I going to talk about?” When it comes to Children of Blood and Bone (written by Tomi Adeyemi), I can go on and on about how beautiful the writing is, how awesome the pacing is, how wonderfully constructed the world is, but honestly, that’s not what matters to me in this review.
Yes, Children of Blood and Bone has all of those things. The writing, the pacing, the setting, the character development, and etc…are all on point! And everyone and their mama will type with multiple exclamation marks and in all caps about how they couldn’t breathe after reading it and they were floored and they were blown away and they wanted to throw themselves out of a window because they couldn’t believe the masterpiece they just read and why do they even deserve to be alive anymore because their life is now complete.
Is the book that great? It most definitely is. No question about it.
But what I really want to talk about is the nitty gritty about why this book will snatch your edges. Because on the eve of Marvel’s Black Panther (I’m actually typing this review as I’m listening to the Black Panther album) on a beautiful day in Black History Month (raises fist), the timing of this book and this review couldn’t be more perfect.
Let me break it down for you…
Here’s the story.
Back in July of last year, I interviewed Tomi Adeyemi at San Diego Comic Con, and we talked a great deal about her inspiration for Children of Blood and Bone, and what it means to her. Knowing the inspiration for this novel made the story that much better, and I’d encourage you to check the interview out. While there are plenty of reviews via Goodreads that will give you a breakdown of the plot of the novel, I’ll just cover the basics here.
CB&B (which is how I will refer to the book from now on to save my fingers) is set the world of Orïsha, where magic used to be celebrated. Now, the current king has ensured that no one who practices magic can live to see another day, and he uses all of his power to inflict violence and fear into those who oppose him. The Divîners (the ones who are gifted with magic) are oppressed, but Zélie, a young and powerful Divîner, has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy.
Also striking against the monarchy is the king’s daughter, Amari. After witnessing her closest friend (a Divîner) being murdered by her father, Amari steals an ancient artifact that can bring magic back and sets herself on a journey to defy her father and do what’s right. However, there’s one big problem, once the king realizes his daughter has betrayed him, he enlists his son, the Crown Prince, to hunt her down and bring her back. Whose side will the Crown Prince take?
You’ll have to read to find out.
Features of CB&B
- Lush, African-inspired settings
- A pretty hot Crown Prince
- Lots of magic
- Complicated sibling relationships
- A rebel princess
- A little love
- A lot of violence (gets a little gory at times)
- West-African inspired mythology
- Snow leoponaires (use your imagination on this one)
- Jollof rice
- A dark-skinned main character who is magical and smart and a tough fighter
- An ending that leaves you wanting more
Questions that need answers (but we really already know the answers)
- How many fantasy novels have you read set in a fictional African nation?
- How many fantasy novels have you read where every single character in the novel is Black? Every. Single. One.
- How many times have you read a fantasy novel and wondered either a) why aren’t there any people of color in here; or b) why are the people of color reduced to side characters whose only purpose is to help save the white protagonist? Insert Magical Negro trope here. Won’t have that problem with this book!
- Are you tired of reading stories featuring main characters from marginalized communities but those stories aren’t written by people from said marginalized communities?
- Are you tired of seeing the entire continent of Africa reflected in media as being a vast wasteland riddled with nothing but violence and poverty?
- Are you tired of people being shocked or upset when they find out the characters they’re reading about aren’t white?
- Are you tired of reading?
- Are you tired?
Alas, CB&B is the answer to all of your fantasy novel woes. You will not be let down.
While CB&B is a book for all people to enjoy, no matter their background, let me tell you BGN readers, it is the embodiment of true representation. When we say representation matters, this is what we’re talking about. So many people misunderstand that word and think that all they need to do is throw some people who identify as different from them on a page and BOOM! Congratulations! You’ve met your diversity/inclusion quota! I’ve got representation!
Not so much.
Those of us who know better know that authenticity is really at the heart of representation. Yes, people want to see themselves on the screen and on the page, but we want to see ourselves reflected in a way that is authentic. And we know immediately when it’s not that.
We all know diversity and inclusion in publishing is aboard the struggle bus, but if you’re looking to quench your thirst for an inclusive fantasy with Black gods and goddesses and Black kings and queens and Black girl magic and page turning plots and I’m-so-sleepy-but-I-can’t-put-this-book-down scenes, then do yourself (and the world of children’s publishing) a favor and buy the book!
It goes without saying that you should read it too.
You’ll have to wait until March 6th, but you can always preorder to ensure that you get the gold. In fact, I got the book for free, and I’m going to buy it just to show support.
So, here’s what you need to do:
- Go see Black Panther
- Read Children of Blood and Bone
- Go see A Wrinkle in Time
The #BlackGirlMagic and all around #BlackPeopleMagic is strong and sprinkling all over the place, and you don’t want to miss out on any of the sparkle.
Now, to join the rest of my book reviewing brethren: PREPARE TO GET THY EDGES SNATCHED!!! YASSSSSS!!! *falls to the floor*
I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Children of Blood and Bone. Tomi Adeyemi. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. 2018.