Tomi Adeyemi’s book, Children of Blood and Bone was recommended to me by a friend and it was one of my favorite reads this summer. I like to describe this book as, for lack of a better comparison, Black Harry Potter 🤷🏽♀️ Similarly, the books focus on a young person coming to age and discovering their magical powers through a series of life tribulations. Unlike Harry Potter, this tale doesn’t take place in some fancy school, rather the varying landscape of the African continent. Even if you aren’t into sci-fi or magic, this book is quite entertaining an enlightening, especially when you consider the author’s motivation in writing the book.
Children of Blood and Bone is the first of a trilogy, which takes place in a mystical version of Africa. While some places are make believe, like Orïsha, there are certainly real places mentioned like Lagos. Ancient Gods and Goddesses from the Yoruba religion play a major part of the backbone of the storyline as they guide the main character, Zélie Adebola, embarks on a destined mission to bring magic back to her people.
Throughout the first book and into the second, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, we watch Zélie and everyone around her learn about their own history — one that they have prohibited to learn and given countless, negative misconceptions about. My favorite thing about this writing is how beautifully Tomi describes the characters, hinting at the tones of their gold and copper skin and intricacy of their curls, braids and locks. I cant explain the connection and deep appreciation I feel when I am reading a beautiful description and I think “like me?”
Adeyemi has said that the idea for the novel came after a trip to Brazil, describing: “I was in a gift shop there and the African gods and goddesses were depicted in such a beautiful and sacred way…it really made me think about all the beautiful images we never see featuring black people.”
In addition to painting wondrous images of Black people, Gods and Goddesses, Tomi makes it an underlying mission to speak to police brutality and racism in [American] society. The people of Orïsha had been persecuted for the magic powers they once possessed. By way of violence and destruction, they were stripped of their powers and society grew to have an incredibly painful disparity. Guided by the Gods (even when she didn’t want to be), Zélie embarks on a mission to restore the inherent magic of her people and end the persecution. In this journey, Tomi aimed to encourage black and oppressed people to continue fighting for their freedom and the ability to reach their full potential (aka find their magic). The first book closes with an author’s note which I think are worth reading and I think will encourage you to read while we wait for the next book!