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.
Guys, this is so good! If you haven’t read this already I highly suggest you do. Go and buy this now, if not for the amazing story then for that gorgeous cover 😉
Where to start? This story felt like 4 mini stories in one (amazing ones I add), moving from one fast paced scenario to another, covering fight scenes, festivals and pirates to name a few. The story follows Zelie as she journeys to undo the work of the repressive King and bring back magic, accompanied by her brother Tzain and Princess Amari. This story felt like an accessible epic, both easy to read but not simplistic, unique but not unusual.. if this makes sense? No? Ok…
I went into this book thinking that with over 500 pages, some of this is bound to drag and become unnecessary, but honestly I couldn’t pinpoint any moments that I could have edited out. It had good pacing and a good mixture of action and plot building. The writing is great and all the characters are fleshed out with their own personalities (more on the characters later!). I love that this high fantasy was set in West Africa, and more specifically focused on Yoruba culture (my husband is Yoruba so it was great to see that representation and discuss it with him throughout!). It had everything you’d want in a YA fantasy and more.
The world building was great, it reminisced the modern world and combined African history with Yoruba mythology. The magic system was also amazing, BTW did anyone else get halfway through and desperately want to take a quiz to see which Maji you would be? I’m still looking for that quiz BTW.
Readers be warned that this book is pretty violent in places and has torture scenes, attempted rape, derogatory terms etc. However you know the author is using the violence as a discussion on race in the modern world, including black lives matter. The social commentary is done is such a subtle but powerful way and I applaud Adeyemi on how she managed to do this.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead- if you have not read this yet, come back when you have! Then we can discuss 😀
OK the characters. Honestly I went from meh, to yay with some characters and yay to meh with others. At first I wasn’t sure about Zelie, she seemed a bit abrupt and inconsiderate, however by the end of the book my mind changed completely and I totally rooted for her. Sometimes showing that softer side is an advantage to the character, and I think seeing Zelie’s softer side in the latter half definitely built on her character arc.
Tzain, on the other hand, had the opposite effect. As soon as we met Zelie’s brother, I felt like this is the kind of character I love and I liked his strength and kindness. However later on in the book I found him to be quite irritating and a little hypocritical. Sure he can have feelings for the princess but if Zelie has feelings for the prince? NO WAY GIRLFRIEND.
Ok, Ok…I know I’m being a little unfair and I know Tzain has his reasons; he just seemed a little hypocritical to me and a little moany. Please turn back to being lovely, I loved you so much in the first half!
Amari was another one I didn’t like so much to begin with but grew on me throughout the book. Honestly the only way I can describe Amari in the beginning is ‘whelp’. Her intentions were good and I’m glad she wasn’t prone to violence, she just seemed a little weak and everything evolved around Binta, and to be fair, seeing your best friend murdered would have a huge impact, but sometimes there’s a bigger picture going on… ok I’m being harsh.
Inan.. sweet cinnamon roll Inan. Honestly Inan had massive Zuko vibes from Avatar: the last air bender. I know I shouldn’t have liked him and I should have been angry, but I couldn’t help but want the best for this guy! I’ll admit his feelings towards Zelie moved a little fast and little too strong for my tastes, but I’m 90% sure Inan is my favourite character. TEMI WHY YOU DO THIS ENDING TO ME?!
Although I have made some comments about what I liked and didn’t like about the characters, it all added up to them being amazing. Sure I didn’t love them all at the same time and there were some bits I didn’t like, but that’s what made them realistic and gave them variety. I can’t wait to see where the next book takes us… and please say Inan is ok?!
What did you guys think? Let me know!
Until next time books friends,