In my junior year of high school, I had study hall in the library for the last period of the day. Our guard/ minder wouldn’t allow us to talk; so on most days, I got my homework done in the first fifteen minutes, and then just sat there. Until one day in late September, I looked over at the shelf and saw the first three Shannara books. Funny lettering and a title with ‘Sword’ in it. I reached over, pulled it off the shelf, and started reading. I remember I read about twenty-five books that year during study hall. I couldn’t tell you what other books I read (I did finish the Shannara trilogy), but I’ll never forget the first fifty pages of The Sword of Shannara. The first pages of Children of Blood and Bone felt exactly the same way. The experience of reading something new, fresh and totally immersive.
There is a clarity of the world, the magic system, and the people in those first fifty pages that I have not seen very often in fiction. I continued on in the book and enjoyed the three-character rotating POV, the family politics, and the forbidden love. All were well crafted.
I guess I should say a little about the plot: Just over a decade before the story starts, magic was taken away from the diviners, and a raid by the crown killed off the vast majority of them. In the present, the children of the maji are a separate neglected caste who are more heavily taxed and persecuted. Zeile is one of the children whose mother was taken in the raid, but magic may return. A chance encounter with the escaped princess puts her in touch with an artifact that can bring back the maji. Based on the author’s West African heritage, this novel is a great blend of fantasy, culture, and familial struggle.
Now, I’m not saying that Children of Blood and Bone perfect. Its plot has those ‘chosen-one, chase that’ tropes, but sometimes that’s ok, especially when the writing is very good and the author is able to take you away immediately.