They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
O.M.G this is such a fantastic book and an incredible debut from Tomi Adeyemi.
There is so much to love about this intense, action-packed, West-African inspired fantasy.
empowering, badass women ✓
a beautiful, evolving female friendship ✓
magic (a little bit necromantic) ✓ ✓
an entirely non-white cast of characters ✓
a raw reflection of real life issues ✓
excellent character development ✓
In the land of Orïsha, maji used to thrive until the night of the Raid when the king massacred the gifted and magic died. Many years later, after watching her cruel father murder her servant/best friend, Princess Amari steals mysterious relics that have the king rattled and teams up with Zélie – a dormant maji who never had a chance to taste her magic – and Zélie’s protective brother, Tzain. Together, they journey to bring magic back, but they only have one chance or it will be gone forever.
The narrative alternates between Amari, Zélie, and Inan – the tormented prince.
The characters are so complex and Adeyemi does a brilliant job with their development; we constantly see them growing and changing and learning. Amari goes from a weak, lost princess to a brave and determined woman. Zélie’s fierce warrior spirit is consistent, but throughout the story, we see the vulnerabilities she fights against come to the surface. Inan, who you could call an antagonist, has a very compelling narrative, constantly battling and doubting himself and desperately trying to figure out what is right.
The world-building, explanation of magic systems, history and culture are all flawlessly constructed. The story has everything you want from a fantasy book but between the lines, Adeyemi thoughtfully deals with issues of racial prejudice and injustice. It’s violent and heartbreaking and fused with the hope of change.
I could feel how much of Adeyemi’s heart went into this book and it is an incredible experience.