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Charisse Jones

Children of Blood and Bone (Henry Holt, 544 pp., ★★★★ out of four) is a debut novel that is nearly impossible to put down.

While Tomi Adeyemi's Africa-inspired fantasy was written for young adults, readers of all ages will be captivated by this engrossing tale that leaves you as eager to see the resurrection of the Orishan gods and their celestial gifts as the novel's protagonists.

Zelie Adebola is the young heroine, robbed of her magical birthright in the kingdom of Orisha by a brutal ruler and then charged with the task of restoring those powers to her people. Like most heroes, her journey is as emotional as it is literal, and we become invested in her growth as she travels through the mountains and forests of her homeland in search of the talismans that for her loom like hidden treasure.

The strongest fiction also traffics in truths, holding up a mirror to humanity in all its messiness. Through the adventures of Zelie, as well as the young royals Amari and Inan, we experience themes that are universal.

These are children straining to shine brightly in the eyes of their ever-disappointed parents. These are young people who have at times been too eager to leap into an adult world, and who, in other moments, demonstrate wisdom, courage and compassion that far exceeds that of the grown-ups who surround them.

Children of Blood and Bone also explores ideas t ...

Children of Blood and Bone (Henry Holt, 544 pp., ★★★★ out of four) is a debut novel that is nearly impossible to put down.

While Tomi Adeyemi’s Africa-inspired fantasy was written for young adults, readers of all ages will be captivated by this engrossing tale that leaves you as eager to see the resurrection of the Orishan gods and their celestial gifts as the novel’s protagonists.

Zelie Adebola is the young heroine, robbed of her magical birthright in the kingdom of Orisha by a brutal ruler and then charged with the task of restoring those powers to her people. Like most heroes, her journey is as emotional as it is literal, and we become invested in her growth as she travels through the mountains and forests of her homeland in search of the talismans that for her loom like hidden treasure.

The strongest fiction also traffics in truths, holding up a mirror to humanity in all its messiness. Through the adventures of Zelie, as well as the young royals Amari and Inan, we experience themes that are universal.

These are children straining to shine brightly in the eyes of their ever-disappointed parents. These are young people who have at times been too eager to leap into an adult world, and who, in other moments, demonstrate wisdom, courage and compassion that far exceeds that of the grown-ups who surround them.

Children of Blood and Bone also explores ideas that are far darker — such as the brutality that too often accompanies power, the repression that follows fear of the other, and the fragility of memory.

Such weighty topics are tackled amid a landscape that is indeed magical. Orishan gods spring to life in a mystical place called Chandomble, and massive horned lionaires roam among the jackalberry trees. It is hard not to be swept away by the vivid vistas and florid language that fill the novel’s pages.

Fox 2000 has optioned Blood and Bone, and it is easy to see how well the story could translate to the screen. When the scent of the sea arises with magical blue wisps, you can practically smell it. When Zelie remembers her murdered mother conjuring shadowy armies of the dead, you can see it. When the village of Ilorin burns to the ground, its residents cowering in agony and fear, you feel it.

This is the first in a planned trilogy. Based on this first taste, readers — after they turn the last page — will likely start ticking off the days until they can curl up once again and immerse themselves in the magic of Orisha.

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