Book title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Reviewer: Ivy Nyayieka
Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone is a fantastical action-packed novel centered on a Nigerian girl Zelie who is tasked with bringing magic back.
She lives in a monarchy, which is responsible for obliterating magic and in which her people, the diviners, who had the capacity for magic in the past, are severely maltreated as labourers and through high taxation.
Although it is a young adult novel, I could barely put it down. Much as I would like this to be testament to my internal fountain of youth, it would be more honest to pit it to Adeyemi’s ability to keep the plot always moving forward.
Additionally, the world she has created is enamoring and small; details such as pet leopanaires, hyperrealistic dreamscapes and floating markets are bound to keep lovers of fantasy turning the pages.
Adeyemi also tells the story through three first-person points of view, including the villain’s- making it easy to be invested in each character’s fate. However, there are moments when first-person point of view hinders, as it usually does, the novel’s believability and makes one aware of the external author’s control rather than the narrator’s.
There are allegories to the Black Lives Matter movement, capitalism, tribalism and slavery.
Although thick, the book was an easy read. However, the plot was extremely violent, which one cannot fault an action novel for. I worried, though, as I can tell the author did too, about the political implication of rooting for collateral loss of life.
Further, even after Zelie restores magic, the goal seems to be to use it for violence. “Think of what the army could fight like,” says a character in the book, signalling that even after a possible union of the opposing forces, the goal is to use the new resource to met violence on a third party together.
Even zooming out of the army as a collective tool of violence, at the individual level there were jarring instances of casual violence.
“I ponder whether Mama Agba’s lashings weren’t to punish but to prepare,” says Zelie, something that reminds me of the misguided arguments for corporal punishment and the belittlement of its severe psychological effects. I was also a bit disoriented about the ages of the characters, who seem quite young at the beginning by their impulsiveness, powerlessness and irresponsibility but then whose romantic relationships indicate that they are a bit older than assumed.
The novel centres strong women in many sectors such as sports and political positions. My amazement at Mama Agba’s secret matches among diviner girls to sharpen their fighting abilities made me feel as old as my mother gaping at my male friends cooking and washing dishes when they visit.
Apart from yourself, your bookworm daughter or niece will love it. You should also probably get it for your son so he does not grow up to be the guy who jokes about men being the natural leaders at business meetings and then have to laugh alone into eternity at his own joke.