Genre: YA, fantasy
Publication date: March 8th 2018 by Macmillan Children’s Books
Format: eARC copy for review from Macmillan Children’s Books via Netgalley. (I later purchased my own copy from Waterstones)
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were 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 an enemy.
I feel like this book was hyped from the minute it was first mentioned, but let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I’m not a huge fantasy fan; I enjoy the odd book now and again and I’m very picky about which ones I read. I wouldn’t have requested this if it hadn’t sounded like something I would enjoy, but I didn’t expect it to ignite a desire in me to read every fantasy book in existence. So, you know.
I don’t even know where to start with this review, it has so much going for it. There wasn’t one aspect I didn’t love about it. The characters were incredible, the writing wonderful to read, the plot thrilling, honestly, I don’t have a bad word to say.
I loved the mix of characters; everyone was so unique and interesting and had their own way of doing things. The friendships that formed, unlikely though some may be, were real and fragile. The change in point of view and narrative voice did not put me off, as it sometimes can do in fantasy books. Instead, I got their own voices, their own thoughts, and it made the narrative richer as I could understand them a lot better. I still didn’t know who to trust at points though!
The world was incredible too. I believe it is based on Nigeria, and I truly got a sense of ‘place’ whilst I was reading (I’ve never been to Nigeria so can’t comment on that specifically, but from what I’ve heard, you can tell she based it there). The descriptions were vivid, and I could easily picture the landscape that the characters were in.
Leading on from that to another point that should be highlighted but have no authority to speak on, is that the book is a commentary on society and the racism that underlies it. Even reading it as a white person, I could see this, and it brought home how isolated people feel, even in places where they’ve always felt was home. I knew people felt like this before, of course, but this book allowed me to see their viewpoint through their eyes, and experience it in a way I can understand a little better (if that makes any sense whatsoever). If you know any reviews by readers of colour, please link them below as I would love to read their thoughts.
The plot kept me intrigued throughout, I couldn’t put this book down (the typical one-chapter-before-bed-turns-into-a-hundred-pages kind of can’t put it down). So many things kept happening, I struggled to keep up. Though I don’t say that as a negative. I just mean it forced me to concentrate on what was going on, which made it better as I didn’t miss anything by doing that ‘I’ve read a whole page but actually read about three of the words’ thing.
I don’t even need to tell you that I would definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It was truly phenomenal and I cannot wait until the sequel comes out, because THAT ENDING. Holy crap it was good.
Rating: 5 / 5 🌟