“We lose ourselves in books, we find ourselves there too."

Good day to you all,

And it is a good day because 87 days after 2020 ended, I have finally completed Challenge 2020 and I have definitely saved the best till last.

“We are all children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue.”

Set in a Western Africa world, we meet Zélie, an Orïshan with magical potential – known as a diviner. She lives with her brother Tzain, and her father, Baba. She remembers a time when the soils of Orïsha hummed with the magic of their souls and where various clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders summoning the waves, and the Reapers who beckon forth souls.

“On earth, Sky Mother created humans, her children of blood and bone. In the heavens she gave birth to the gods and goddesses. Each would come to embody a different fragment of her soul.”

During a genocide, known as ‘The Raid’, she witnessed magic being stripped away from her people, resulting in the deaths of many maji (those able to summon magical powers), including their mother.

Zélie’s mother was a Reaper and so that is her destiny as well.

“538. That’s how many times my body was ripped apart. How many spirits perished…he many innocent souls shriek in my ears.”

After such a cataclysmic and life changing event, magic seemed to be lost forever…that is until three seemingly unremarkable objects seem to spark it back to life.

“Walls start to form around my heart, walls I know he can feel.”

The gods believe in Zélie, enough so that she can bring those sparks into a giant fiery flame and bring magic back. Harnessing the powers and controlling them however, require a lot of skill and pose a threat not only to Zélie but to everyone around her. But this is journey she can’t make alone…

“…when magic returns, the dream will end. Magic doesn’t give us peace. It only gives us a fighting chance.”

Amari is a princess, daughter of the King of Orïsha and ignorant of the atrocities committed by him. Her only exposure to magic comes from her only friend, Binta, her servant.

“We don’t need to fear magic. We only need each other.”

Her brother, Inan, on the other hand despises magic as much as his father and will anything to prove himself.

“Magic is the source of all evil…”

When Zélie and Amari stumble across each other, along with Inan, they travel across Orïsha in search of the three objects, which when combined will bring magic back for good. But they are under a time pressure, if they are too late to conduct the ceremony, magic will be lost forever.

“This is how it ends…exactly how it began.”

But that’s not the only pressure they face, for an army, led by crown-Prince Inan are following their every step and are hell-bent to eradicate magic for good and intend on capturing Zélie for good measure.

“Good hearts don’t leave scars like that.”

But Inan also hides a secret, a secret so huge that if it is discovered, then his life could be in jeopardy.

“The truth cuts like the sharpest knife I’ve ever known.”

Danger lurks around every corner, they can’t stop to take a breath and when Zélie starts to fall in love with an enemy, she may end up being the most dangerous of them all.

“Duty isn’t enough when it means destroying the girl I love.”

There are three alternating narrators of this tale – Zélie, Amari and Inan and we experience changing philosophies and political agendas of all three characters and we follow each of their journeys throughout. Now normally I’m not a fan of alternating narrators but this book has been executed perfectly that you can follow every detail and not get lost along the way. This book also manages to avoid the good vs evil debate by showing us that we all have flaws in who we are and our motives and it’s actually a very grey area when defining it.

As you may know from previous reviews, I tend to be skeptical when reading books that are absolutely raves about all over the internet. However, I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to anyone and everyone. It has love, it has magic, it has friendship and family too. It has elements of fantasy and death features too. But it is a well rounded novel and with the sequel ‘Children of Virtue and Vengeance’ out now, I can’t wait to buy it and get stuck in!

The most heart-wrenching and thoughtful things about this book is in the authors note at the back where she details some of her reasonings for writing this book in the manner that she did and within that she names of unarmed black men, women and children being shot by police. I know that it’s a touchy subject but honestly it’s heartbreaking. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children all taken too soon.

To end this review I will quote Tomi Adeyemi:

“…we have the power to change the evils in the world.

We’ve been knocked down for far too long.

Now let’s rise.”

You can find this 5 star book (5 stars doesn’t seem to do this book justice) on Amazon

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on my Challenge 2020 summary and for all upcoming book reviews!

Until next time,

Keep reading,

D x

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