I am a lover of genre fiction – specifically scifi and fantasy. And in the case of fantasy I feel that it gets a bad rap. I understand that when it is done poorly it can be somewhat cringe-worthy – falling into tropes and clichés that are well trodden – let’s say. But when it is done well it can be something quite special. With Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi has done something quite special.
First of all it is set in a world inspired by the author’s West African heritage making for a setting that is unique and different but also refreshing in a genre that as I said can rely too heavily at times on well-worn ideas. It primarily follows Zélie a rebellious teenager as she struggles to help her family and her people in a world where there was once magic but that magic has been removed and replaced with a repressive government that inflicts a strict class system and harsh, cruel laws. Through multiple point of view characters we get to know this world and the people who live in it and the secret of where the magic went – and if it can ever be restored.
The world-building in Children of Blood and Bone is exceptional; the characters are compelling and defy genre expectations. It deals with themes of race and class, power and brutality. It follows the struggle of marginalized people as they fight for not equality exactly but just a right to be who they are. It also deals with family and responsibility and the complex relationship with faith and spirituality and the politics of secular society.
But ultimately Children of Blood and Bone is simply an adventure story – a – multi-layered adventure story – but an adventure story nonetheless that keeps you riveted throughout. It is a unique tale told in a unique voice. And it ends on a cliffhanger – so there is more to come.