Copy of Children of Blood and Bone
Credit: Macmillan Children's

Children of Blood and Bone, from first-time author Tomi Adeyemi, has all the makings of a masterpiece.

The 600-page volume is a multi-faceted narrative not for the faint of heart (or memory), offering a Gabriel García Márquez-esque introduction of the fantasy novel’s many tribes, as well as a powerful origin story. The book has already made waves in the literary world, owing both to the young age of its author (Adeyemi is 23) and her record-breaking book deal (seven figures, one of the largest ever). The movie rights were scooped up by Fox long before the book’s release on Tuesday, and the producers behind the Maze Runner and Twilight movies are set to bring it to the big screen.

Blood and Bone follows a young girl, Zélie, who lives in Orisha, a mythical world filled with magic, monarchy, and the problems often associated with them — class discrimination, abuse of power, and violence. She’s a member of the group known as the Magi, citizens who had special powers before the king attempted to rid the world of magic. She discovers a way to bring those powers back and, in turn, help the former Magi, who have been disenfranchised and mistreated.

Comparisons are drawn, quite naturally, to the Hunger Games and Harry Potter franchises. And there are plenty of aspects that fans of those YA behemoths will find to their liking. There’s a divide in the lives of people of the magic and non-magic variety (we didn’t say muggles, you did). The citizens of Orisha are divided between different tribes, and members of the nobility live luxuriously in the central district. The wealthy tribes even force their servants to participate in deadly arena fights for entertainment.

But the similarities end there, and readers will find a lot to wrap their heads around in the world of Children of Blood and Bone. It’s worth studying up before diving into the tome because this is a franchise that’s going to be around for the long haul.

The Main Characters

The novel switches between narrators: Zélie is the clear protagonist, but the central story involves the adventures of four young citizens of Orisha.

Zélie: A girl from a poor family in the village of Eloirin who lost her mother during The Raid.

Tzain: Zélie’s very protective brother

Amari: The princess of Orishan who eschews her family’s violence against the magi and helps Zélie and Tzain attempt to bring magic back

Inan: Amari’s brother, the prince of Orishan, charged with stopping the children from restoring magic — and bringing them to justice

Everyone Else You Should Know

Baba: Tzain and Zélie’s widowed father

King Saran: Amari and Inan’s father, who has a murderous streak and a taste for revenge against anyone with magical powers

Nailah: Zélie and Tzain’s pet lion

Mama Agba: A mentor (and fight instructor) to the young girls of Eloirin

Binta: Amari’s best friend and palace servant

Commander Kaea: The head of Inan’s army and one of the top Magi-haters

Credit: Macmillan Children's

The Magi Clans

The Magi themselves have their own groups of powers and personalities. Below are the clan names and their specific powers.

Reapers access and manipulate the spirits of the living and the dead

Connectors tap into the mind, consciousness, and dreams of others

Tiders manipulate water and ice

Burners generate and manipulate fire

Winders manipulate air and wind

Grounders manipulate the earth

Welders manipulate and bend metals

Lighters manipulate light and darkness

Healers heal a wide variety of ailments and injuries

Cancers infect the living with a wide variety of sicknesses and diseases

Seers see into the past, present, and future

Tamers control and transform animals


Consider these all the catchphrases you’ll want to know to be in with the cool kids, stat.

Agbon: The main team sport played in Orisha

Ahéré: A small hut in Orishan

Alafia: A form of heaven

Ashe: A substance in the blood of the magi that gives them their power; what they need to do magic

Diviners: Magi who are still awaiting the use of their power

Gods: A curse word used by diviners

Kosidan: An Orishan who doesn’t have the potential to do magic

Lionaire: Magical creatures that double as pets and battle fellows (also known as Ryders)

Orishans: People who live in Orisha

Maggot: A slur for magi, mainly used by the nobles

Majacite: A metal, created by the nobles, to weaken magic and burn through the flesh of Magi

The Raid: The time when the King and his soldiers abolished magic and killed as many Magi as possible

Skies: A curse word used only by nobles

Yoruba: A magi language that was abolished after The Raid