CW’s: Violence, Murder, Blood, Torture, Rape Threats
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy
“I won’t let your ignorance silence my pain”
Hello and welcome, I have finally managed to read one of the biggest releases this year. This was also a buddy read with the lovely Swetlana @ thecaffeinatedbookwormlife! ♥ As you can see from my Rating the hype did not fail me, which is always very nice, as Children of Blood and Bone has obviously received a lot of praise which sets up certain expectations going into it. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit behind with the buddy read, because of personal circumstances that put me in a bad reading mood, which was such a shame. That’s why I took very long to read this book. I got 300 pages into it, paused as I was going to Paris and then reread the those 300 pages + finished the book in one day. It was definitely worth it to put it down and start over again, as my mood really made me cranky the first time around.
Tip: If you’re in a bad mood, don’t force yourself to read, as even the best book will seem not great at all. That explains why I initially was like “hmm this doesn’t seem like it will be 5 stars”, but wrong. When I was finally in a better mood, I flew through this and now follow all my feelings about it!
[I couldn’t include all the spoilers, beause it’s SO hard to hide them, if you have any helpful tips, I would be very grateful! However, I could hide them in my Goodreads Review, so you can see them there!]
Let me tell you about my feelings
“They don’t hate you, my child. They hate what you were meant to become.”
💕 Zélie has become one of my new faves.Just to be clear I’m totally on her side and I already feel sad about all the guilt she carries around. You could say that I’m 100% Team Zélie, which might also be why I was angry with her brother for always being so harsh with her. She is just trying her best like everyone else. Zélie is human, she has flaws and makes mistakes, so to see the blame put on her made me incredibly angry. I was rooting for her, because her failures and anger felt so real to me. The best kind of characters make you feel with them and that’s what happened to me here. I felt Zélie’s guilt and her hurt when someone would say that she was the one to blame. I was angry with her about losing everything and I understood why she was impulsive and making rash decisions. She has a huge heart, but often Zélie doesn’t consider the consequences that her behavior could have, as she is overcome with fear, passion or the ever simmering rage for what has been done to her people. There are a lot of factors that drive her character and I liked that we saw each of them explored. What struck me the most was how she admitted that “she’ll always be afraid” later in the book, it perfectly showed how much her life had been dominated by oppression, guilt, grief and rage. Zélie fought because she never wanted to be afraid again, she wanted to feel confident, strong, fierce, so no one could make her feel like that little girl again who had to endure so much horrible things no child should have to. Zélie is definitely a strong characters with a lot of flaws, but they make her what she is. I honestly think she is going to be a great role model for others, a hero in every sense of the word, as even heroes are not perfect. There is certainly a lot left to explore with her characters, especially towards the end.
“Courage does not always roar. Valor does not always shine.”
💕 Amari is the character I related most to. She is a very soft girl and starts out being very overwhelmed and scared by the entire situation. She just witnessed her best friend’s death so she is shaken up and escapes from the palace (that’s right, she is the princess and Inan’s sister). Amari is such a kind, compassionate person I immediately LOVED her and I also related a lot to her fear, because I would react the exact same way in her situation. However, she is so much more than soft-spoken, Amari can also be very fierce and to underestimate her would be a grave mistake. Past lessons in the palace have forced her to learn how to fight and while she never wanted to + refused, the knowledge is there, just waiting to be used. I loved how loyal she was to her new friends and how she always kept trying to keep everyone together. The scene where she feels so weak and like a coward especially resonated within me, because I would be scared too in a fight and definitely not up to barge right into it. BUT Amari also undergoes some incredible character development, while not losing her kindness. As she has been prodded into a person her mother wanted to at court, Amari always felt caged, controlled, everyone telling her what to do. Well that ends now as she reclaims her courage and starts to fight, instead of letting others tell her what to do.
💕 YES to the Girl Friendship. Alright, I’m just going to say it Zélie and Amari rocked the “Enemies to Friends” Trope! Usually I’m all against girl hate, BUT that’s not the case here. Why? For once Zélie and Amari don’t hate each other because they see each other as rivals or enemies in a competition involving men. They have such a huge dislike towards the other, because of their circumstances and that is the ONLY explanation I will ever accept when two girls start out as enemies. It was so well done here and I really applaud this well nuanced portrayal of a friendship that starts out in hate, but slowly develops from there on. It was perfectly done and all the books that resort to ‘girl-hate’ could learn from here. Girls can be written as enemies, but NOT because of the stupid rivalry the patriarchy enforces, but because of clear circumstances and reasons, that are allowed to change. Enough rambling, Zélie obviously hates Amari because she seems to embody everything she hates: the people who took away her mother and enslaved her people. She sees Amari as little more than a spoiled princess, a burden she now has to take in ever since they got on the quest together. Amari is definitely stung by how harsh Zélie can be, but she also shows her that she is not like her father, that she has more characteristics that Zélie does not know about. While I felt sorry for Amari, I definitely understood why Zélie hated her so much, why she was incredibly angry and projected all her rage on the other girl. Throughout the novel they begin to understand each other and get to know how the other person truly is. That ends in both of them becoming the best of friends and that was incredibly pleasing to watch! I cannot wait for both of them to kick some ass together, we love powerful ladies slaying together!
“You have your duty and your heart. To chose one means the other must suffer.”
💕 Inan’s character Arc was very interesting. He is the crown prince of Orisha, meaning that he has been under the influence of his father his entire life, who taught him that magic is evil, destructive and had to be wiped off the planet to insure safety. This is a key element to his whole character Arc, was time and time again his father’s lessons that have been drilled into his head resurface. I really found it interesting to see Inan struggle, when he discovers he has magic as well. Of course this leads to a lot of self-hate, as Inan has internalized that magic is poison, something that is now in his veins. However, he cannot escape his new powers, as they threaten to overtake him and push him to use them, especially as he needs on his search for Zélie. Now he character Arc had ups and downs, as he is still caught between the belief his father drilled into him and what he slowly discovers about the past e.g. seeing the pain his father caused and how magic might not be as bad. Like this he is an incredibly unreliable character, as he is being pulled to one side or the other. Again, it’s really hard to describe Inan without delving deeper into the book and spoilers.
“Everyone else feels like being caught in the rain. You’re the whole tsunami.”
💕 Romance was incorporated very neatly. I really enjoyed the romance that we got to see and I liked that it never overtook the story! It’s interesting that the only time I ever liked Tzain (more on him later), was when he was with Amari. That’s because he was a totally different person around her and treated her way better than anyone else. He was kind to her from the beginning and very respectful, making sure she didn’t make choices she did not want to do. It’s hard shipping them when I hate on part of the pair, but we’ll see how their relationship develops later on, especially as Amari did see Tzain’s other side. The romance I liked way more was Zélie and Inan. The synopsis promised us a hate to love relationship and we got it in the best possible way! I really liked how it was done, it had a great buildup and a realistic change in their relationship. Obviously both start out as enemies with Inan being the crown prince and having been raised by the man who was responsible for killing lots of maji, including Zélies mom, wiping out magic along with it and enforcing all the violence and oppression on the rest of the people. Since Zélie starts out knowing a secret of his, she’s good at teasing and tormenting him whenever they meet up in his dreamscape, which makes for an interesting dynamic at first. I cannot say too much without spoilers, but I liked seeing how their relationship slowly changed. Since Inan is a Connector, he can see her memories which helped him visualize her pain and at least give a small understanding of what had happened in her life and how his father’s decisions affected it. We see him slowly seeing her in a different light and together with his arc about questioning everything, Zélie becomes a key factor in how he struggles with his self-hate and beginning to see maji a bit differently. Now things get complicated for him, but I do believe that Inan truly cares about her and has at least changed a bit during his time knowing her.
💕 The Plot was perfectly paced and engaging. The pacing was perfect in this book, I never felt bored and while I did take so long to read this, it wasn’t because of the plotline at all. Children of Blood and Bone has a good balance between focusing on characters and the important plotlines, which makes it very easy to read once you get into it. I read the last 200 pages in one sitting, as I had to know what happened next. I also need so much more content, as the book had me yearning for more. So I really need book 2 like right now.
💕 The Magic System swept me off my feet I wasn’t surprised, because I was naturally a fan of the clan system with their own powers, god and names! (The test told me I’m part of the Connector Clan, which sounds really cool + accurate.) We saw mostly the Reaper and Connector powers in work, which in itself was very interesting to see. I was especially excited about the latter, as I got Connector on the quiz and loved to see what someone with these powers could actually do. I liked seeing the dreamscape and exploring how this power could be used to feel someone else’s pain and explore their memory to gain more sympathy, but also used to kill. Like Zélie said, Connector’s definitely get respected, because their powers can be very strong and do a lot more harm. She herself has Reaper powers, that we also saw in action, which was very interesting to see, especially as they could also be used to help instead of only destroy. I’m sad that we didn’t get to see more of the other powers (only a few glimpses), since only two main characters showed powers. However, I’m very much looking forward to seeing more powers in the future.
“As long as we don’t have magic, they will never treat us with respect. They need to know we can hit them back. If they burn our homes, we burn theirs, too.”
Oppression and violence also get explored here. Cool powers aside, magic has disappeared for years before the start of them book when the king managed to push the maji down and they lost all their powers. This means that they are now subjected to the cruelty of those in charge and put on a Tax for them to pay. If they fail they are sent to work camps or worse places, where only death awaits them. They cannot defend themselves any longer, which is why Mama Agba has taken up training Zélie and other girls with magical ancestry, who would have grown up to be Maji one day. Of course this changes when the plot starts off, but even when Zélie discovers she has powers and can bring back magic, we see a lot of the oppression that she faced. There is a lot of grief in her and all the maji who were brutally slain and crushed, because the King hated magic so much and made it responsible for all his problems. We see a lot of violence and threats against the maji, they are not seen as people to the king and his men, they don’t have a name and a face, they are simply regarded as problems to be eliminated. The slur ‘maggot’ is used to refer to them and there is not opportunity wasted to make them suffer, which is why we see a lot of violence against the Maji. Obviously this is also referring to how black people are treated in real life and therefore has a direct relevance to our daily lives (something that is picked upon in the author’s note) and here I’ll link to some ownvoices Reviews, who can speak about this better than I ever could.
I have only 1 tiny thing that I disliked
And that’s how Tzain’s character was a total miss for me It seems like I’m in the minority here, but I couldn’t warm up to Tzain. This is an unpopular opinion incoming, but like always these are just my feelings and thoughts about him and why something about Tzain kept bothering me. Generally, I felt like he wasn’t fleshed out and complex as the three POV characters and somehow I could never connect to him or really love him despite his flaws. This might be linked, but I found that he wasn’t really that relevant to the story either and brought nothing interesting to it. When it comes to my dislike for him, it was pretty much from the very moment we meet him. I thought that he was quite condescending towards Zélie, brushing off her Maji training as useless, when he didn’t get what it meant to her. I felt like he generally didn’t understand the situation she was in and never could, as her experience as a diviner was different from his, even though they both suffered a lot under the king. Furthermore, I continued to dislike how he kept blaming Zélie for everything. Of course, she made a lot of mistakes and has flaws, but … so does he, yet he never sees himself at fault. I found it unfair how he treated his sister and yet never admitted his own faults. Towards the end, we see a different side of him, one that I personally felt like he showed a lot. Tzain could be very unfair and yet Zélie and other characters saw him as a saint, the kind brother … only that his behavior – at least for me – never really let me buy that. When he says these horrible things to Zélie he never really apologized either. Instead he mumbles how he promised their father he wouldn’t leave her … which is not an apology. What angered me even more was that Zélie brushed it off and immediately forgave him, when the other way around Tzain was allowed to sulk and hold grudges until Zélie apologizes ten times. I found that there was a lot of double standards here and that’s why I sadly never rooted for their family relationship either. I love seeing family as a theme, but I couldn’t excuse Tzains constant blaming. I did understand some of his anger, but I don’t like it when we have characters that don’t allow others to make mistakes, when they are far from perfect themselves. There was always something with Tzain that made me a bit angry and uncomfortable. I hope I’m not the only one feeling so, because I really wanted to like him, but in the end the way his character got forgiven for anything and was even praised while he did some shitty things he never owned up to, didn’t sit well with me. I might jinx myself when I say this, but I hope to God that he’s not a POV character in the second book. While that might provide more insight into his character, I would rather not read from his perspective. There was only one time when I actually liked him and that was when he was with Amari.
IN CONCLUSION: After some troubles on my part Children of Blood and Bone managed to convince me with it’s great characters and engaging world building. I was deeply invested with the three POV characters and like how well set up their character Arcs were. I cannot wait to explore more powers and changes in the upcoming books, as there is still a lot left to be told. This was a truly vivid and magnificent read and it’s hard to describe this book in a way that does it justice.
Have you read Children of Blood and Bone? What abilities would you like to have?