Wow. What a debut!! Children of Blood and Bone took my breath away with every page. There were bits that disturbed me, bits that gave me chills, and there were some brilliant characters woven into the storytelling. Be warned – if you haven’t read the book yet, there will be some spoilers!
Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the order of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must stay hidden.
Zélie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.
This is the sort of book that I’ve wanted for years. Fantasy is usually very samey – lots of male authors, and lots of white characters. There’s a lot of inequality in the genre which is a shame. So when news of a fantasy written by a black female author was announced, I was incredibly excited! And the excitement paid off! This debut book is beautifully written, and fully harnesses the anger of racism and passion to speak out for what is wrong. With a healthy dose of magic overpowering and overcoming evil towards the end, this was a great start to an incredibly promising trilogy.
Let me just say that the way magic is written in this book is done right. Each time Zélie brought up the powers in her blood, harnessing the power of her ashê to bring forth her powers. It caused chills to go through my body – each description was beautiful. Zélie is a brilliant character; her lack of confidence in herself and her staggering amount of doubt in her own abilities is so sad to witness. Add to this her years of grieving for her mother and constant racial insults from royal guards, Zélie is a mess of a character at the beginning who becomes strong, capable and proud of her heritage. The other characters were also great; I really liked Amari’s arc from vulnerable, frightened princess to fierce, brave warrior. Tzain was ever the protective older brother, making sure to always put others before himself and never failing to come up with decent plans. The only character I didn’t really like was Inan. He started off alright, but towards the end you could see that he was just too far gone from his father’s brainwashing to be likeable.
One thing I disliked in this book was the instalove. You all know that I cannot stand instalove – it’s one of the most overused tropes in young adult books. Unfortunately, the romance in this book also went down this path. Although I’m also fond of the enemies to lovers trope that was also used, it was a shame that the author decided to rush into the two characters romance arc – towards the end of the book, the love interest just became rather annoying and it felt rushed too. It was a shame to have this in the book; it would have been nice if there was more of a growth between the two characters first, but judging how the book ends…I’m not too sure if it’ll happen…
Final thoughts: A gorgeous beginning to an intense trilogy! 4/5