*I received a proof copy of this book from MyKindaBook in exchange for an honest review*
I’ve been looking forward to the release of Children of Blood and Bone since I read the sampler after YALC. I was excited for this story steeped in African magic and with a story of overcoming adversity and oppression. I was also excited because I knew there were multiple POV characters – not only Zélie, who’s trying to restore magic, but also Inan, who’s trying his hardest to eradicate it. Plus, that cover art! It’s spectacular! How could I not want to read this?
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and 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 the enemy.
For the most part, I really, really loved this book. Two brother-sister pairs of protagonists on the run as they try to fulfil their destinies, and bring back – or keep down – magic once and for all. Zélie was a compelling main character, with a headstrong personality and an incredible tendency to run straight into trouble. Contrasted against the softer, more refined personality of Amari, the princess on the run, the tension and contradictions between these two leading ladies were delicious.
Then the two male leads, Tzain and Inan, were equally complex and interesting. I thought it was interesting that three of the four main characters were narrators, but Tzain was, for some reason I couldn’t fathom, sidelined, and only seen from the perspective of the other three. It was an interesting narrative choice, and I’d love to ask the author why she did it.
But the three narrators were fabulous – each had their own distinct voice, and from inside their heads, as their past unfurled and affected their present and their future, I was wrapped up in all of their stories. I supported Zélie and her quest to restore magic and free her people. I was so behind Inan and his struggle of reconciling duty and self, and deciding which he must put first. I was cheering Amari on as she uncovered the fierce, strong woman who was hidden inside her. The fact that their goals conflicted directly with each other didn’t really bother me. I was behind all of them, and waiting for them all to succeed.
I was a little worried, mid-way through the book, that the set-up of four main characters, two brother-sister pairs, would lead to a terribly neat and dull arrangement of two couples at the end. But I was so pleased that was actually happened was infinitely more complex and satisfying than that.
I really, really loved this book. The whole way through I was entranced by the world-building, the spiritual connections, the weaknesses and foibles of these four main characters, and the depth of the thought which went into their adventures and their development. It was a five-star read for me the whole way through, especially as the climax was so powerful.
Except – on the last page, something happened, and I don’t know what it was. The book ended on, I think, what’s meant to be a cliffhanger? But I didn’t actually understand what had happened. It’s probably that I’m monumentally stupid, and the climax was clear to anyone with an ounce of sense, but I finished the book not with a feeling of ‘I can’t wait to see what happens next!’ but rather with a question of ‘What just happened?’
The sense of not understanding (and it’s only the final maybe paragraph that I don’t understand) is so great that it’s actually marred my enjoyment of the book as a whole. Not enough to knock off more than one star, but it’s left me with a vague, dissatisfied and confused feeling, rather than impatience for the next installment, or any of the wonder that I was feeling at how well-plotted this book was.