I initially picked up Children of Blood and Bone upon hearing news that the second book in the series, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, was set to be released in early December 2019. I’d heard that the Orïsha series was supposed to be good (and according to some, amazing) and I’ve always had a love for fantasy series.

And holy shit. It’s just as good as promised.

image of tomi adeyemi's book "children of blood and bone"

The magic system is so beautiful and well thought-out that it blends perfectly with the world that Adeyemi creates. The characters are compelling and interesting, each with their own desires and flaws that make them human. So too is the world convincing: the system of government and monarchy, the economic system—Adeyemi clearly put a lot of time and love into creating the world of Orïsha.

Though it’s an incredibly thick book, once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. Every page brought a new twist or a shocking revelation and I held onto my copy firmly as I rattled and bounced on the train to and from work. (It certainly made the hour-long trip feel a lot shorter.)

The Orïsha series is a part of the young adult umbrella, a genre category that I don’t often delve into. Adeyemi’s book came so highly rated, however, and the promise of the second book on the horizon convinced me. That being said, I find that the book does have a lot of YA “pitfalls.” Predictability being my most frequent complaint; whether through plot or character interactions, there were numerous scenes and moments where I found myself rolling my eyes.

“My heart swells in my chest. A coil of hair falls in front of my face, and Inan tucks it behind my ear. Goosebumps prickle down my neck where his fingers brush my skin.
I clear my throat and look away, ignoring the thumping inside my head. I don’t know what’s going on, but I know I can’t allow myself to feel like this.” (360)

Like, girl. Girl. You’re falling in love. It’s….obvious. And this sort of description repeats throughout the middle-end of the book, as her feelings for Inan grow stronger. It becomes trite towards the end.

While I lean on a certain amount of predictability, it got to a point where I was frustrated by the obviousness of the plot. Especially when it came to Zélies budding romance with Inan, I found myself shaking the book and exclaiming, “You’re in love, you fool!” 

The same thoughts came to mind when Tzain and Amari began exhibiting feelings for each other. Where they’re both blushing, and flirting, and smiling coyly—it got to be a bit much over the course of the book.

All of that aside, it’s a really fucking good story. It’s magic like it’s never been done before and the setting adds a fantastic dimension and really brings the story and the characters to life. Without being overly-explanatory, Adeyemi weaves the history of Orïsha and the mythology of the gods into the story, expertly creating a backdrop upon which to paint Zélie’s saga.

OVERALL

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy YA and a good ol’ enemies-to-lovers trope. The world is incredibly well thought-out and beautiful. I think Adeyemi tried to put too much into the first book, á la Percy Jackson and the Olympians: there are ten magi gods, but we really only learn about a handful of them. I hope that there’s a further exploration of the lore and culture of magi in the next books and that we get to see more of the magi tribes and types of magic that they possess.

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