Let’s chat about books: The Children of Blood and Bone


Mia Bolyard

Children of Blood and Bone written by Tomi Adeyemi and cover art by Rich Deas

It’s Black History Month and an important part of celebrating is to give recognition to some of the black authors today who have created outstanding pieces of literature. One example is Tomi Adeyemi’s book, Children of the Blood and Bone.

The book is set in Orïsha, a fictional place based on actual African spiritual beings. The story switches between the characters Zélie, Amari and Inan. Zélie is a divîner, a child of the maji, a human who is able to harness the power of deities. Zélie’s mother was a reaper who harnessed the power of the deity Oya. There’s also the characters of Amari and Inan. They’re siblings, as well as the children of King Saran. King Saran is determined to rid the world of all Maji and will do what he needs to do to achieve that vision. He ordered raids, and constantly taxes the divîners with no magic for existing. Many of his soldiers abuse their power and will raise hands when not necessary. Inan wants to assist his father’s views, while Amari disagrees with them.

Although fictional and some elements stretched to fit Adeyemi’s image, many aspects are actually based in the culture of the Yoruba. Words or references used in the book are legitimate according to experts. This is amazing as there isn’t a lot of fictional work out there that highlights African cultures or religions celebrated. The respect given to these gods and concepts is clear in the text, and I applaud Adeyemi for bringing awareness to young readers and hopefully sparking additional interest and research.

Along with the historical roots, a lot of the story is based off of the shootings and violence directed towards black men, women, and children all over the US. In her author’s note, Adeyemi explains the pain she felt watching these events occur. She specifies names like Jordan Edwards and Diamond Reynolds as she compares them to fictional characters in her book and the hardships they faced.

With just these facts on the book alone, I think it is a fantastic read for everyone to look into. But there’s also some general writing remarks to be made.

First of all, the writing is so descriptive I almost felt as though I was there. The lush lands, the intense fighting, it all felt as though it was actually happening in front of my eyes. When you feel as much a part of the scenery as a tree in the forest, then you know the writer is doing a good job.

The characters are all well written as well. Not a single one of them feels 2-D. Even characters such as Binta, a handmaiden and friend to one of the main characters Amari. We barely meet her, but as the story progresses and Amari recalls memories the two had shared it is almost as though I know her as well. The main character Zélie is such a fierce and powerful character, but in her moments of vulnerability the reader cannot help feeling her despair as well. The relationship between Inan and Amari is most interesting as the two grew up together, but were constantly pitched against each other. Not to mention the depth in Inan’s character as he struggles with himself internally for half of the book after he finds something out about who is.

I 100% recommend this book. I couldn’t put it down when I first read it. Another fantasy recommendation with some deep mythological and spiritual roots of a culture that I am not as familiar with. A great book to receive another perspective, especially with a strong woman of color as a main character.

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