Children of Blood and Bone Review
This is a great book to use to spark a discussion.
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
Going into this, I basically went in blind. I didn’t know what to expect. And if I’m honest, I don’t think I would have picked this up if it weren’t for a book club two put together by two of my good friends. This was their February book pick and they both sold me, this book sounded amazing. After I finished, I really struggled with what I should rate it. Although I liked this one, I didn’t love it and I found there were quite a few things about this book that just didn’t sit well with me. I’m happy to have read this with a group as I was able to discuss some of these concerns as well as hear others’ opinions of this book. It helped me justify being able to give this one only 3 stars.
Although I liked this one, I didn’t love it and I found there were quite a few things about this book that just didn’t sit well with me.
As I mentioned, I did expect to pick this one up. I had only recently heard about it saw it was a Young Adult Diverse Fantasy book. With my ever-growing TBR list, this wasn’t high on my priority list to get to. I knew I would have eventually liked to read it, it just wasn’t in the forefront of my mind. But once it was picked to be my friends’ book pick, getting a chance to read this with friends changed my mind. I was genuinely intrigued by the premise.
We enter a high fantasy realm where a kingdom is based on the country of Nigeria. In this realm, there is a population of people labeled as diviners, when these people turn 13 they become maji who possess magical abilities. However, years ago the maji’s tie with their gods was severed and they lost their magic. You were easily able to tell who was diviner/maji as they were born with stark white hair. This was a sign that you were pickled by the gods to receive magic. The kingdom though despises the diviners and treats them as scum. We primarily follow a diviner, Zelie who is chosen to restore magic to the realm and in hope take down the kingdom or lose magic forever.
This book although on the longer side, being over 500 pages long was relatively a quick read. I didn’t struggle to get through this at all. Though there was quite a bit of world-building as well. While also not so much as I’ve seen among other books. The world-building was often mixed directly with the events of the book so the pace wasn’t hindered as can often be the case when it comes to creating a high fantasy book. We rarely ever paused to enjoy the view, we were constantly moving through the plot.
Being over 500 pages long was relatively a quick read... We rarely ever paused to enjoy the view, we were constantly moving through the plot.
That brings me to my first major issue with this book. There were so many moving parts, often filled with overly complicated scenes and interactions between characters. And some of the parts tended to raise more questions than we got answers to.
It was this idea of things being overly complicated that was discussed heavily in the book club discussion. It brought up several plot holes throughout the book. Even more, than I had initially noticed, but after hearing them brought up I completely agreed with them. Which some I’ll touch on after to avoid spoilers.
Besides the plot holes, I also struggled to connect with any of the characters. I only found one of them truly likable, but only so at the end of the book. For the majority of the book, I found that one character very whiny and annoying. As I mentioned, we primarily follow Zelie, a diviner. Zelie was picked by fate to restore major to the maji after she decided to help a fugitive while at the market one day. This fugitive turned out to be the princess of the kingdom, who stole a sacred scroll that would help restore the maji’s magic. I found Zelie to be a very weak character mentally, she thought she was worthless and it didn’t help her brother, Tzaine often told her she was dumb and made all the wrong choices. However, we’re never truly explained why Zelie feels this way. I also found it disappointing, Zelie’s brother is in the entirety of the book but we never got to see his perspective. I think if we had, it would have helped immensely and answered some of these questions about why Zelie feels this way.
I found Zelie to be a very weak character mentally
It’s obvious that Zelie is more of the “main” main character, but I definitely think the princess, Amari was a better main character, she was more sure of herself by the end of the book. Amari grew as a character whereas Zelie stayed the same from where she was at the beginning. Based on the ending, I wouldn’t be surprised if Amari became more of the “main” character in the sequel, I think would actually prefer it too. If you haven’t guessed, Amari was the only character I ended up liking.
Our other main character was Amari’s brother, Inan who chases Zelie, Amari, and Tzaine in an attempt to stop their quest of restoring magic. Inan and Tzaine were my least favorite, but Inan takes the cake. He flipped and flopped so much throughout the book, it drove me nuts.
Another aspect was this instalove we see. It was so sudden and happens in only a matter of hours it seems. It just felt so unrealistic even for a book. Though I’ll admit, I was definitely shipping it hard at the beginning of the romance. But by the end of the book, I wished that it wasn’t there at all. To avoid spoilers, see my thoughts later in the review for one of the other issues I had regarding this instalove.
Another aspect was this instalove we see. It was so sudden and happens in only a matter of hours it seems. It just felt so unrealistic even for a book.
Occasionally after I finish reading a book, I get hung up on parts or themes. Such was the case with this one. Well after finishing and having the discussion, I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and how it was inspired by Nigeria. So I ended up doing some light research, and I discovered that a majority of the locations used in this particular book are named after real locations in Nigeria. This being high fantasy, learning this fact hindered the creativity I initially loved about this book. I would have preferred seeing completely fictional names rather than ones from our world, it would have felt more unique. These non-fictional names made it feel less of a high fantasy novel.
So as I mentioned, I didn’t love this one, but I did enjoy it. Despite all the issues I had with this. I don’t regret reading it. The discussion for this book was also very entertaining, and I think this is a great book to use to spark a discussion. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking read, I definitely suggest this! Also if you’re a fan of fantasy especially high fantasy, I highly suggest trying this one!
Keep reading for more of my thoughts on Children of Blood and Bone!
Warning! Spoilers :)
Going back to the instalove, the romance between Inan and Zelie was completely unnecessary. It didn’t help the plot at all. And if you’ve read this, you’ll know Inan although he despises the maji, is one himself. Inan is a connector, with the ability to feel others’ feelings and go into their dreams. Inan does this to Zelie, he often pulled her into this dreamland. And eventually, they got very intimate in this place. After this scene, I couldn’t help but think… So does it count?... I got so hung up on this thought that it was the first question I posed in the book discussion, which sparked a very amusing and humorous debate. The overall consensus ~ it’s the safest option. But whether it counts? That’s still debatable. I had told one of my friends who hadn't read this book yet, about this thought of mine and she responded to my question, “well if it does then I’m a slut.”
Okay! Lastly! These plot holes, the premise was lost after the ties were severed when the king had the three sacred items stolen. First, how did the king know that magic could be severed in this way? Second, why does the tie to the gods solely rely on these sacred objects? That seems a bit reckless and just plain dumb. Third, if these objects were so sacred, how were they stolen so easily? You have magic!!
Okay, rant over :)