Children of Blood and Bone

This is one of those rare young adult books where I heard about it organically. Like Twilight it seemed to pop out of nowhere. One day it didn’t exist and the next it’s the most popular thing in existence. To be fair it does have a badass title. Catchy and intriguing. Unfortunately, the hype failed to live up to my expectations.

In the land of Orisha, magic used to be king. But the real king took away the magic and subjected the practitioners of magic to near slavery and subjugation. They are easily identifiable, with their white hair clashing with the muggles’ pure black hair. But a set of ancient artifacts have washed up on shore and any diviner who touches them automatically gets their magic back. Maybe there’s a way to bring magic back to the land after all.

Zelie’s mother was killed when the king took away magic. She would do anything to bring magic back and exact revenge. But is she willing to protect the king’s daughter? Who stole the magical artifact in question? Now, they must travel across Orisha to the sacred temple to perform the sacred ritual to bring the magic back.

If that description sounded dull, imagine reading a 500 page book filled with it. But compliments first. Orisha, being loosely based on Africa and African mythology, is super unique on the YA market. Which is a total shame because there are so many unique magical histories around the world beyond Harry Potter. Anyways, that’s my main selling point for Children. Exploring a world I don’t feel like a thousand fantasy authors have tread before. There’s no pointy eared blonde haired haughty elves in this one.

Sadly, there’s little else. Although the world is quite unique, it never feels truly explored. I never felt like I got to know the land of Orisha or the magic that once inhabited it. It’s a fetch quest, bring this here, do this, and return. Characters pop in and out seemingly at random. The four main characters: Zelie, Tzain, Amari, and Inan, are essentially interchangeable. I had trouble identifying who was actually talking. Inan has the most struggles, given the only semblance of a character arc. Whereas Tzain might as well not be there at all. His plot contribution amounts to “I know a guy who can help.” And, as with many young adult novels, the characters travel intensive amounts of distances without difficulty. The map made Orisha look large, but when they walk from one side of the area to the other in like 10 days, I think the country is the size of Connecticut.

Coupled with some romances (one develops in the matter of hours) poor character decisions immediately after learning a lesson about NOT doing that same thing, Children of Blood and Bone ends up being underwhelming. But it has gotten wide and high praise from multiple sources so maybe I’m just a fuddy-duddy.

1.5 out of 4 stars

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