Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Series: Legacy of Orïsha #1
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Pub. Date: 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 18 hours, 9 minutes
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
After reading very little young adult fantasy for a while, it was wonderful to read Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, read by Bahni Turpin. Inspired by West African mythology, Adeyemi created a world where the magic-users, Magi, have been oppressed and magic has been almost wiped off the face of the earth. Zélie remembers what the monarchy did to her family and her people and when magic disappeared. Now that she has the chance to bring magic back, she has to outrun the crown prince with the help of her brother and a princess. She must also gain control of her powers if she has any hope of bringing it back.
After I found that I loved Bahni Turpin reading The Hate U Give, I learned that she was also the narrator for Children of Blood and Bone. For Adeyemi’s book, she used what I assume would be an accent of a Yoruban person since it references Yoruban language, at least that’s what one of the languages in the book was called. While I appreciate that she can use different accents for the whole narration, I didn’t enjoy it as much when I heard her slip out slightly out of accent and sometimes completely out of the character’s voice she was using. For example, there were several times where I couldn’t tell if I was listening to Inan or Zélie speak and think. That was made harder with the Adeyemi’s timing for inserting Amari’s perspective.
The three characters whose perspectives are given in the novel—Zélie, Inan and Amari—all manage to develop in the story, but others do not. Zélie does what she can to survive, learning to fight and selling what she can, but that does not stop the government from threatening to take everything from her and from every other Magi. What she would give to have her mother back and get her magic back! Inan and Amari are the prince and princess of Orïsha. While they experienced fairly similar training from their father, Amari fell into her mother’s shadow and Inan did what was necessary to become a military leader to please their father. Amari has compassion for the Magi because of one friend, and that thrusts her into the middle of a fight she wouldn’t otherwise be in. Inan has a secret that makes him more deadly to run from.
I know that there’s a lot of romance in YA books, but it annoyed me that the four main characters had to be involved in romance. Tzain, Zélie’s brother, doesn’t change during this adventure, though I think he is a good match for Amari. Amari and Tzain’s relationship is a nice slow-build, and I found it believable. I was annoyed about Zélie and Inan because their romance felt forced from the get-go. As the novel progressed, I came to understand why Inan is falling in love with Zélie, but Zélie’s end of the relationship wasn’t believable for me.
The world building is beautiful and wonderful, though it sometimes borders on giving exposition for no real reason. The history of Magi-oppression and life with magic was explained very well. I appreciate that the physical book has a map and a list of the clans of Magi, but I don’t think they would have helped much as a listener of the audiobook. While the world building was good and made the world more expansive, it was confusing with respect to magic. It was unclear to me why the scroll gave some Diviners their magic back and others not and why one character only became a full Magi and sudden access to her powers after a ritual. Even the timing of the ritual is unclear. These differences were not cleared up or talked about. It is possible that I didn’t catch it, only listening to the book, but I never heard it resolved.
There was an odd shift for some of the characters to switch back and forth about how good or evil magic is. I think it was okay for the one character, but it wasn’t explained well for the other two who swung between these thoughts. When I read the review of the book on Feed Your Fiction Addiction weeks before I checked it out, Nicole had warned that this would happen, so I knew going in to expect it. It was odd to listen to myself.
Children of Blood and Bone is a great addition to young adult fantasy for its unique world, its diverse cast of characters, and the way magic changes its presence in the world.