Book review: Children of Blood and Bone sweeps us along on a quest to revive magic

A tribe of former magicians fights to regain its power — and save itself from persecution — in Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi. The book is set in Africa, which adds flavour to the story.

books Updated: Apr 17, 2018 16:33 IST
Sanchita Guha
Sanchita Guha
Hindustan Times
Children of Blood and Bone,Tomi Adeyemi,Magic genre
Tomi Adeyemi is the author of Children of Blood and Bone, a book replete with magic and adventures. (Photo: Instagram/tadeyemibooks)

Zélie, a young woman who’s told to stay out of trouble but is itching to hit back when insulted. Tzain, her handsome older brother who’d stand by his sister, no matter what crazy stuff she does. Amari, a do-gooder princess who flees the palace with an all-important magical artefact. Inan, the floundering prince craving his father’s approval. These are the four main characters, headstrong young people who’re often at loggerheads but must save each other at crunch time. Tzain doesn’t get a chapter to himself; the story is told from the points of view of the other three in turns, probably because the protective brother knows exactly where he stands in the scheme of things, while the others are sort of thrashing about, discovering themselves.

The book, set in Africa, makes full use of the continent’s reputation for voodoo, witchcraft, and other assorted varieties of supernatural stuff. It takes humankind’s eternal fascination with the elements of nature and gives power over elements to ten clans that together form the Maji, each clan with its own deity.

  • Title: Children of Blood and Bone
  • Author: Tomi Adeyemi
  • Publisher: Pan MacMillan
  • Price: Rs 399

Clearly the leader of this ensemble cast, Zélie has the appearance of being the exact reverse of the standard Caucasian teenage magician – she has black skin and white hair, a giveaway of her Maji lineage, a fact that gets her endlessly into hot water.

Amari’s chance discovery of her father’s extreme cruelty sends her running from the palace, around the same time when Zélie and Tzain are making a last-ditch attempt to get the money that’d save their family. Inan comes charging at all of them, and the contact with Zélie triggers the prince’s own latent magical powers.

After this build-up, it’s a long series of adventures, quite a lot of bloodshed, mental skirmishes between Zélie and Inan and their predictable attraction for each other, and a less complicated romantic bonding between Tzain and Amari. Together, they have to find all the artefacts necessary to bring magic back.

While the author expertly creates the world in which magic lurks at the periphery of everyday existence, the one fault in the book is the repetitive meetings of Zélie and Inan in their dreamscape – it just goes on for way too long, making the story sag in places. Indeed, some of the other scenes are a bit overdone as well in their length and detail, but on the whole, this is a good read for anyone hooked to stories about sorcery.

First Published: Apr 17, 2018 16:27 IST