Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi | SLJ Review

Gr 9 Up –Zélie Adebola, 17, remembers the night of the raid in her village 11 years earlier.

redstarADEYEMI, Tomi. Children of Blood and Bone. 544p. Holt. Mar. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250170972.

Gr 9 Up –Zélie Adebola, 17, remembers the night of the raid in her village 11 years earlier. Her mama was chained by her neck and lynched with other maji by the forces of ruthless King Saran of Orisha. King Saran hates magic and considers it the source of all evil, so he targets and exterminates the maji, who worship ancestors and practice magic. Now, they live hopelessly as servants, slaves, stockers, and prisoners. Zélie strives to bring back magic in Orisha, so she becomes the main target of King Saran’s maji cleansing campaign. She sets out on her spiritual journey with her athletic brother Tzain and pet lioness Nailah. They encounter an unexpected ally. Princess Amari of Orisha escapes from her estate of Lagose after witnessing the murder of Binta, her maji best friend and handmaiden, at her father’s merciless hands. Zélie, Tzain, and Amari go on the run to restore magic in Orisha. Adeyemi’s debut and series opener is a revelation. She has brilliantly woven the Yoruba language and culture into a complex and epic tale. Readers will appreciate the intergenerational cast. Teens won’t feel lost in this lengthy tome because of the excellent use of flashbacks and backstories. The violence can be extreme at times, but it doesn’t feel exploitative, and themes of female empowerment make this especially relevant. VERDICT This extraordinary literary work offers a refreshing YA fantasy with an all–West African cast of characters that should be on every shelf.–Donald Peebles, Brooklyn Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2018 issue.

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