What is Children of Blood and Bone?
There is plenty to like about the young adult novel Children of Blood and Bone. Tomi Adeyemi has done an excellent job at creating a powerful ‘lived-in’ world in her debut novel. A world which is a fantasy version of Nigeria. Where it feels drawn from both reality and other fantasy worlds like Avatar: The Last Airbender or Black Panther.
The premise of Children of Blood and Bone serves as a vehicle for an allegory. Reminding the reader to feel appalled at the racist treatment of people-of-colour in the wider world. The clever thing is that Tomi Adeyemi does this through a cast featuring people-of-colour. Which means that this is not a simple tale of white-powers crushing alien peoples under their authority, or a tale which preaches its message. Much in the same way that Marvel’s Black Panther held greater authority through showing that all people are capable of oppressing others, regardless of race, Children of Blood and Bone embraces the same approach.
Magical System and World
The novel contains a fascinating magical system. Here the author created a society of people who previously held magic. I personally love these types of approaches to magic systems (Throne of Glass is another example), where magic is a metaphor for oppression and power. Unlike Throne of Glass, the oppressed people are a branch of regular humans. Humans called maji who were blessed by the gods to have special powers. Rather than being Fae or alien races. This difference allows for the anti-racism allegory to better shine through the storytelling.
There were some issues I had with the story which did not spoil the overall story. They did leave me frustrated, which is a sign that I was emotionally engaged with the story. Firstly, the use of four different perspectives did not feel necessary when the plot jumped so quickly to four perspectives all within the same environment. The four points-of-view worked well earlier in the story (hence for me the beginning was stronger than the ending) when one of the points-of-view was that of a true antagonist, and another was from a princess.
My second major problem was that, early on the antagonist had a beautifully complex point of view. The way he struggled with balance in his views was fascinating. There was a struggle between what he perceived to be morally right and what he had been taught through propaganda. At this stage it was a beautifully developed perspective. However, the later stages of the novel felt as if this character’s moral stance flipped far too easily. One minute he felt one belief and then another minute he held another. This seemed to suit the plot’s necessity rather than felt natural.
And my third issue was the speed of which the characters in the novel developed romantic relationships. I do tend to be critical of romantic relationships in novels to a greater extent now. This is because I recently became married. And while some readers who have not experienced a great depth of romance may not have issues with this, I personally found it a little forced in the storytelling.
On the whole I did enjoy this novel, and one of my favourite elements was reading through the acknowledgements at the end. Realising that it truly takes a village of support to create one bestselling novel. I certainly encourage anyone hungry for plots with people-of-colour and fantasy flavours to dive into this novel. I do not know any novel truly deserves excessive hype of the type this novel has received. Yet, being pleased for the author’s success, I will certainly continue to read the series as each new installment releases.
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Children of Blood and Bone
Themes and Ideas8.5 /10
Unique Plot, Characters or Worlds8.0 /10
- Great themes - a neat way of showing racial conflict and struggle for civil rights
- Interesting world and characters on the whole
- Great magic system
- The balance between the point of views
- The unbalanced point of view of the antagonist was frustrating
- The romance felt rushed to me