Described by its creator as “Black Panther with magic”, Children Of Blood And Bone has set the 2018 publishing world on fire. It is believed to have earned the largest advance in the history of young adult fiction, and there are already plans to turn it into a film.
A self-confessed huge fan of Harry Potter, Adeyemi is looking like a potential successor to JK
Rowling’s crown as the queen of children’s writing.
One one level this is a book that luxuriates in fantasy and escapism: an epic tale of adventure where a princess, Amari, and a magician (maji), Zélie, embark on a grand quest to challenge the tyranny of a ruthless king and restore the magic that he banished from his land and people.
Adeyemi draws on West African Yoruba culture and mythology to create Orïsha, the world of Children Of Blood and Bone. We are in safe hands here with a writer whose skill for
worldbuilding is magnificent: this is a setting with a rich history and geography to rival
anything from Tolkien. The different classifications of maji alone, from the Reapers who
control life and death, to the Tiders who control water, to the Healers who control health and
disease, will be enough to have fantasy aficionados young and old salivating.
But on another level this is a story borne of the real “pain, fear, sorrow and loss” in the world today. In a stonking tearjerker of an author’s note at the end, Adeyemi talks about writing the book as a response to the anger and helplessness she felt facing the cruelty of unarmed black men, women and children being shot by the police in her native USA.
This is a writer who believes that stories can change the world. And there is plenty of
evidence she is right. The generation brought up on Harry Potter are becoming adults filled with the spirit of rebellion that runs through those books, and political activists have cited
Dumbledore’s Army as their inspiration to fight inequality.
I believe it matters what fictional characters do and say. Every time the hero of Children Of
Blood And Bone, Zélie Adebola, gets up and fights for what is right in Orïsha, she now has an army of readers all over the world willing her to succeed. This matters because this army
may just go on to change the real world. Believe the hype: this is a stunning and exciting
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