Children of Bone and Blood
By Tomi Adeyemi
Published by Macmillan
ISBN 978 1 5098 7135 3
Fictional fantasy countries in Africa are having a big moment. We got to visit Wakanda in Black Panther, and now Nigerian-American author Tomi Adeyemi offers us a thrilling ticket to Orisha in her novel, Children of Bone and Blood.
Epic fantasy fans have been hoping for the next must-read saga to fill the Hunger Games gap for a long time, and here is the first in a trilogy that could very well do the job.
Adeyemi describes her novel as “an allegory for the modern black experience”, but readers of all cultures will simply judge it on its story and characters. And, of course, the magic and action scenes. One thing is certain – it is a magnificent read.
Seventeen-year-old Zelie Adebola remembers when Orisha was filled with magic. The country’s different clans each possessed a magical talent that bonded with others to make the country great. Tiders could control the seas; Burners ignited fire; and Reapers – like Zelie’s mother – were the magicians of life and death. In Orisha, magic has always been a good thing, keeping the country isolated but strong.
But 11 years ago, King Saran began to resent the power that clan magicians possessed and banished magic from Orisha. He sent his troops into the clan lands and they killed all the practising magicians, Zelie’s mother included. Since then, the children from magic families have lived lives of torment and misery under the watch of the vengeful king.
Adeyemi sets up the plot background quickly and skilfully, and draws the reader totally into the dangers, power play, and customs of Orisha. Her creation, owing much to African myths and legends, are completely absorbing and believable.
When Zelie comes across a chance to bring magic back to Orisha, her fate is set. With the help of her brother and a rogue princess from the royal household, Zelie sets about her task. And every step she takes is dogged by Crown Prince Inan, who is determined to finish what his father started by wiping out magic forever.
Bone and Blood plays out against a vast canvas where strange creatures prowl, evil spirits lurk, and humans plot and kill. This is a tale of revolution, faith, heritage and everything in between.
It is remarkable that a debut novelist has written a complex and at times jaw-dropping novel such as this masterwork of fantasy fiction. Children of Bone and Blood, with its all-black cast, its original setting, and its gripping plot, gives the epic fantasy genre an explosive shot in the arm.
John Millen can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org