Friday, 22 March 2019

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Reviewer: Catriona Troth

What We Thought:

Tomi Adeyemi is a part of a new wave of authors who – like Cherie Dimaline and Daniel Jose Older –are creating fantasy novels not rooted in Western European folklore and mythology but which draw upon their own particular heritage. In doing do, they are breathing a new and exciting life into the genre.

In Adeyemi’s case, this is a Yoruba heritage from Nigeria.

The story takes place in Orïsha, a beautiful but dystopian world, divided between dark-skinned, white haired divîners and the lighter skinned kosidán. The divîners were once majis, the descendents of ten clans who could control the natural forces of the world. But magic has been stolen from the world, destroyed by the King, Saran, who fears its power and hates those that wield it. And now divîners are little more than slaves, despised, abused – referred to as maggots.

But then the king’s daughter, Amari, finds there are three artefacts that could bring magic back into the world. When she stumbles into the arms of Zélie, the daughter of a powerful maji killed by Saran when he tried to wipe magic from the earth, the two of them may just have a chance to change Orïsha forever.

It is not only traditional Yoruba stories that Adeyemi has drawn on in creating this story. As she makes clear in her Afterword, everything that happens to her characters has been visited upon Black bodies in the not-so-distant past and much of it is still being visited upon them today.

No one is the villain of their own story. And some of the power of Adeyemi’s story telling is the credible fear of magic she creates through the point of view of Inan, Saran’s son and Amari’s sister. He too wants to change Orïsha, but his vision is very different from Zélie’s.

It is the mutual fear and distrust between divîners and kosidán– between those with the power to wield magic and those who have used brute force to suppress it – that will stand in the path of a new and more equal Orïsha.

A fresh new new voice in the fantasy genre - and a powerful and beautiful allegorical tale for our times.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Avoid If You Dislike: Scenes of violence and torture

Perfect Accompaniment: Fried plantain and jollof rice

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Available on Amazon

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