Wow, how do I even begin this review? I have SO MANY FEELINGS about this book. It’s set in African folklore, all about that black girl magic, AND it’s a response piece to police brutality against black bodies? UGH, slay me, Tomi. And don’t even get me started on the fact that Tomi is my age (26) and out here slaying her FIRST NOVEL and already has a movie deal?! UGH, slay me AGAIN, Tomi!!!!!!!!
This book was everything I never knew I was waiting for. What struck me the hardest (and most frequently) was the fact that I had to consciously work to remember that the characters where POC! HELLO, brain! This is AFRICA! But, seriously, all my life, I’ve read book after book after book where the characters were devoid of melanin. So much so, that my default has always been to imagine characters with white skin in every book. I loved that this book made me face that uncomfortable and forced me to get used to seeing characters in my mind’s eye that *gasp* LOOKED LIKE ME![Clearly, I need to read more books by AOC more often.]
What I loved: I couldn’t put this book down. I DEVOURED IT! The character development, the symbolic nuances of colorism, brutality, racism, oppression, and on and on and on. Tomi weaved a world that was part Wakanda, part folklore and gave so much depth woven into intricately built characters and experiences. The journey Zélie embarks on, not only to save her people but to find herself, is one I’m sure every black girl/woman will or has been on. For me, the pride in which Zélie wears her coiled hair after her magic returns is similar to the pride, love, and acceptance I, too, felt when I embraced my natural hair and learned to love the skin I am blessed to be in.
Did I mention that a made a Zélie cosplay last year?
Yeah, that definitely happened.
The action: This book took be for a RIDE! I pride myself in my ability to predict what’s about to happen way before it happens. But this book HAD. ME. SHOOK! Shooketh to my core! There were so many intricate twists that I did not see coming, but a few that I knew were coming but did not want to be true. I’m excited to see the styles of fighting in the movie production!
The romance: So, I was very annoyed with the instant attraction between Zélie and Inan, but I was NOT ready for him to betray her like that! He can catch hands for that mess! I am, however, obsessed with Amari and Tzain. Although, I am always skeptical of early pairings because the pessimist in me is always waiting for something to go wrong.
The artwork: The cover art is absolutely stunning! I even did a Zélie cosplay [which Tomi featured on her IG!!!!] at last year’s Wizard World Tulsa. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the fan art and cosplays that have been created based on the cover illustration. Even the hard cover itself is dope!
The Author’s Note: I loved so much about this novel but above all else, the Author’s Note was the most moving. I know first hand what it is to be a black woman in America and to know the fear that so many of us live with daily. I am encouraged by Tomi’s words and in awe of not only her passion but her ability to turn her fear and rage into this amazing work of art. My hat goes off to you, Tomi Adeyemi, for truly showing what real black girl magic is.
What I look forward to: I’m looking forward to seeing how this story and the characters continue to develop. (I’m personally rooting for Inan’s demise, but we’ll see.) What kind of magic does Amari have? What in the world is going to happen with Inan? Will Amari become queen?
Children of Virtue and Vengeance is set to be released on June 4, 2019. And you better believe I am preordering the moment I am able to!