I know that a lot of the buzz for Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi was last year, but I just finished it this year and I loved it. Many people call it “Young Adult Fiction,” which is true in many senses, but to be honest it reads like high quality high fantasy to me. Can’t wait for the sequel and movie that are both in the works. Probably the best summary of the premise of the book, the underlying meanings of the events, and the inspiration for the book is by Adeyemi herself on the Tonight Show (worth watching even if you don’t like Fallon):
Adeyemi describes Children of Blood and Bone as “Wakanda with magic,” which is a good way to describe it in some ways… but the country of Orïsha in her book is not a a fictional country that exists in a different version our world like Wakanda does. It is its own world and culture and gods and social structures and so on, which is why I put it in the “high fantasy” genre myself.
Adeyemi also teaches creative writing. To be honest, I have read many things written by people that teach creative writing that really aren’t that creative. This book is. There is a main character throughout the book, but Adeyemi decided to write each chapter from the viewpoint of the main character or two other important characters. The title of each chapter lets you know which point of view you get for that chapter.
This is an important choice, because it allows Adeyemi to explore different perspectives without the jarring effect of switching points of view so many authors fail to handle well. But even more importantly is how each different point of view serves a deeper purpose of helping the reader to examine their own privileges and prejudices from different angles. If you are really engaging with this book, you will come away convicted of how you need to change, despite the fact that you are reading about a fantasy world called Orïsha. Prejudice against those that society sees as “lesser” due to skin color, social, status, past conquest, or any other factor is framed in this book as a problem that exists even in other worlds that never knew Earth’s religions, power structures, and historical events. This in turn removes objections that readers would have of “if I had been alive back then” and examine yourself in ways that our ahistorical revisionism tends to prevent us from doing.
Of course, layered on top of that are some intriguing story lines and character developments that also entertain at a pure surface level as well. Lots of twists that you didn’t see coming… including an ending that is not what you would expect. Well, you kind of come to expect a twist ending by the time you get there, but the one you get is not what you think it was going to be, but it kind of is if you think about it. Of course, you are only given a peek at the entire twist at the very end, meaning we have to wait until the next book in this trilogy comes out. Can’t wait!