Children of Blood and Bone is probably the best YA fantasy novel I’ve ever read. Big statement, but it’s true. I loved it.
The story is set in the country of Orïsha, where magic once existed before it was destroyed by the monarchy. Protagonist Zélie, from a poor family who is constantly fighting for survival under the brutal reign of King Saran of Orïsha, finds herself caught up with girl called Amari who is running from the monarchy’s guards. Amari is the Princess of Orïsha who ran away from the palace carrying a sacred scroll which has the power to restore magic to the lands. Together, and along with Zélie’s brother Tzain, the girls are tasked with locating two more sacred artefacts and performing a ritual that will prevent magic from disappearing forever. Meanwhile, King Saran and his son Inan do everything in their power to stop them.
At its heart, Children of Blood and Bone is about two cultures at war, with longstanding distrust and misunderstanding at the heart of their conflict. The story explores colourism, class divides, and the ostracization of those who are different. Despite being set in a world so different from our own, the themes resonate powerfully with issues facing our own world. It is this which makes the story all the more compelling and fraught with emotion.
What I loved most about Children of Blood and Bone is the complexity of the characters. None of them are one-dimensional tropes, but instead have been carefully crafted with both appealing and unappealing traits – even the ones we’re rooting for most. Adeyemi takes the time to really explore the histories of each main character to show the reader why they are the way they are, and why they hold their beliefs so strongly. Protagonist Zélie is not a flawless heroine and as we learn of her traumatic childhood, we understand why. Even the bad guys, King Saran and Prince Inan, are bad for good reasons, which forces you to sympathise with them even during their most abhorrent actions. Naturally, we pick sides with protagonist Zélie, but it’s impossible not to feel something for the King whose brutal regime was borne out of his own heartbreak.
To put it simply, Children of Blood and Bone deserves all of the praise it has been lauded with. It is vibrantly written, thoughtfully crafted, and has a gripping, tightly-woven plot. Most importantly, it left me wanting more, so it’s lucky that a sequel is in the works.Follow Ellie Scott on WordPress.com