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Children of Blood and Bone Book Review

For all of my Black Harry Potter fans, dive into a world that many of us have never seen before in Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone. With themes of Afrofuturism, West African tradition, magic, colorism, and much more, Children of Blood and Bone was everything I needed to read and more. Adeyemi’s careful word choice from English to Yoruba and wisdom from the continent of Africa is beautifully portrayed in this heroic story of Orïsha. Adeyemi focuses on Zélie’s adventures of becoming a woman and a maji, along with her brother Tzain and the escaped princess of Orïsha, Amari. Usually when reading a story, it isn’t hard to make out characters that look like me; but to have a story that relates to a topic that I have so much love for, I found myself breaking through a threshold. It was as if a new coming came over that allowed me to see myself in an adult fantasy/magical genre with Black characters who look exactly like me.

The story begins with Zélie practicing with her staff against Yemi in her hometown of Ilorin. Mama Agba (Zélie’s teacher) is a Seer, which we later find out in the story, who has guided Zélie in her practices up until now. With Zélie being a maji, she is looked down as scum. Colorism can be seen early on in the book as most divîners and maji have darker skin complexions and those of nobility have lighter skin complexions or wear make-up to appear lighter. Fast forward to the plot, Zélie ends up having to sell fish in Lagos to pay a random tax that guards keep coming to the outskirts towns for. She runs into Princess Amari on accident, or what might be a calling from the gods, and is stuck with her. After Amari sees her best friend Binta, a maid who is also a divîner, killed by her own father, Saran, because of her ability to create magic with a stroll, Amari decides to run off with this powerful tool. Once they reach the gates of Lagos and Tzain comes to Zélie and Amari’s rescue, a tale of events transpires with guards, Amari’s brother (Inan who is also the Prince of Orïsha), maji from almost every clan and many more.

With relation to race issues in America and all over the world, the maji v. human debacle in this tale is so telling of 21st century America. From Inan’s stubbornness and his belief in his dad rather than the actual betterment of Orïsha, one can see the comparison of White people and Make America Great Again to Black people and Black Lives Matter. Adeyemi does an excellent job at incorporating the Yoruba language into this story while adding to a broader conversation of Afrofuturism. The terms in this book are tantalizing and roll off the tongue as if any Black person, no matter their heritage, can relate to the lessons of Mama Agba, Olanilekan, and Baba. From the ahéré (home) to the Sky Mother, Adeyemi grounds he work in uplifting the Black woman and for that, I cannot thank her enough. Children of Blood and Bone will open your eyes to a world that many of us are not familiar with, but as each page turns, you will feel more connected with your roots, your love of fantasy and a newfound love of wisdom.

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