Sunday, 11 March 2018

Children of Blood and Bone // a stunning debut

Children of Blood and Bone left me with CHILLS. Normally I don't purchase a book before finishing the eARC, but I was not even half way through the book before I pre-ordered it. I needed to have a physical copy in my hands that I could flip through over and over again. It is the fantasy novel I have always dreamt of, and every aspect of it is simply stunning.

Set in the once magical world of Orïsha, Children of Blood and Bone tells the story of the resurgence of magic and hope against a king's tyrannical reign. It tells the story of Zélie and Amari, the daughter of a maji and a runaway princess, who with Zélie's brother Tzain set out on a mission to restore balance in Orïsha. And it tells the story of Iman, the young prince striving to put a stop to it.

When simplifying the plot this way, the book doesn't sound too special. But it is what is on the pages and between the lines that make it live up to it's glorious title and cover. It reminded me so much of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which from me is the highest complement, because Avatar shaped my reading, watching, and writing influences and continues to do so today. Yet it also stands totally on it's own as a novel that is unique to anything I have ever read before, and despite it's size it left me wanting so much more.

"This is our story. Our history. A truth the king tried to bury with the dead."

The world itself is magnificent. The West-African influences were fantastic, and Adeyemi lets nothing slip through the cracks of her detailed world building. From the magic to the animals to the communities, I felt like I could see Orïsha in all it's vibrancy.

The characters were also incredibly well developed. I understood what drove their actions and it made me feel closer to them, even when I felt conflicted over their actions. Zélie's struggle between desiring safety as well as freedom is incredibly real, and I loved seeing how she felt conflicted with her choices whilst being expected to lead. Amari also had a wonderful character arc. Everything about her seemed to scream naïve little princess, but it is slowly revealed that there is much more to her, which plays in perfect contrast with her brother. Iman's struggle between his identity and the desire to please his father and one day be a strong king were so interesting to read, and the complexity of this inner turmoil had me question what path he would choose at every turn.

Ultimately, however, this always felt like Zélie and Amari's narrative. It was they who set off the events together, and despite tensions, it still feels like their narrative until the very end. Their friendship is imperfect, but to me it felt like an integral part of what made the story so special. Children of Blood and Bone proves that romance is not the only way to raise the stakes and make a perfect fantasy tale, but that friendship and family can also provide that strong emotional connection.

"Do you think they'll tell stories about this?" Amari asks. "About us?"

It normally takes a couple of books before I declare a series as one of my favourites, but Children of Blood and Bone was enough to make Legacy of Orïsha my new high fantasy obsession. With complex characters and a stunning world, this is one story I cannot wait to revisit.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


YA Fantasy

Book 1 of 3 of Legacy of Orïsha

Entirely black cast (with one Asian side character)

attempted rape, death, gore, murder, hanging, violence, blood, torture, physical abuse, war themes


  1. Yessss. I love seeing this book get love! I read a physical ARC and am waiting to get my physical finished copy (it was released today in AUS!). Like you, I knew from early on that this book was going to blow me away. And it totally did. You described all the things I loved about this so well, Helia!

    Considering that it was such a big book it moved so quickly. It was one of the best paced novels I've read, I think. It never felt rushed, but SO much happened from start to finish. But not enough as well because I wanted more as soon as I finished it, haha. I have actually thought about re-reading it already because I feel like there are things I am bound to have missed in my first devouring of it, haha.

    I hope we don't have to wait too long until book two!

    Lovely review <3

    1. Same here! Every time this book is mentioned I get super excited (it was mentioned by someone at the Angie Thomas event I went to in London yesterday and I had to try hard not to overreact). I started recommending it to everyone I knew before I'd even finished reading it because I loved it that much. I'm glad you felt the same way I did!

      Children of Blood and Bone has excellent pacing. I never wanted to put it down and when I finished I thought 'what am I going to do now?' I'm trying to stop myself from re-reading it too soon, but like you the temptation is strong.

      Thank you Chiara! I hope we get our hands on the sequel soon!

  2. I was very passive about this book but then you had to go compare it to my favorite Avatar: The Last Airbender and now I'm very, very curious. Great review!

    1. It might be because I'm re-watching Avatar at the moment but I couldn't help but spot similarities. It has the prince chasing after the good guys to gain his father's approval whilst beginning to question if what he's doing is right; it has a rich world with animals and plants that are like our own but different; it has a protective sibling dynamic; it has a trio travelling across lands to bring an end to an evil king's reign... But at the same time it is nothing like Avatar at all. I cannot recommend it enough! Thank you :D

  3. I also have recently read this one and I absolutely loved it from start to finish! I did think it got a bit long at times, but for the most part I fell in love with the characters, the complexity of the plot, and how it did deal with the complexity of the themes of racism, oppression and discrimmination and privilege. I absolutely loved Amari. She ended up being my favourite character! The only downside is that now we have to wait a year for the next book :D

    1. This book is glorious! I know what you mean about it being long - it's one big book! But it captivated me from start to finish. I didn't know it was possible to pack so much detail into one book without it taking away from the plot and the movement, but the author does it all so brilliantly. Honestly, I think all of the characters are my favourite, but I do love Amari. She had really good character development and I love her friendship with Zelie and how they kind of contradict each other but also balance each other out. One year is far too long to wait!