In Orïsha, a fantasy land based on Nigeria, magic is outlawed. A land that was once full with the Maji clans practicing their many forms of magic is now a place where the remaining few with magic constantly fear the heartless King Saran.
Zélie is a Divîner; she does not possess the full powers of a Maji, but has the ability to become one. All the diviners in Orïsha are oppressed by the ruling class, the Kosidàn, and are marked out by their striking white hair.
One day, Zélie and her brother Tzain head to Lagos to raise money for the crippling taxes placed upon them, and cross paths with Amari, who is escaping from the royal family of Orïsha with a magical scroll in her hand. This scroll provides hope for the Divîners of Orïsha, which prompts the trio to embark on a demanding journey to bring back magic and loosen the grip of the monarchy on the lives of the people. With the Crown Prince hot on their heels, it is a race against time to complete a ritual that would mean everything for Zélie and the Divîners. This is difficult enough, but is made more complicated when Zélie begins to have feelings for an enemy…
I took a while to get started with book, but, as with many fantasy books, once I reached middle of the book I felt like I had got into it. Adeyemi creates a world that is unique in YA fantasy – a setting based on Nigeria and West African mythology.
I am glad that this book has become well-known and liked; many YA fantasy books have very western settings and characters. Those who have read other fantasies or TV shows such as BBC’s Merlin will see a familiar plot curve, but made up for by the vividness of the world in which the story took place. If you enjoyed Throne of Glass, you’ll probably enjoy this novel.
While this is a fantasy novel, the struggles faced by the characters serve as an allegory for slavery, oppression and the police brutality against African Americans.
My main issue was the romance in this story – it seemed rushed and made little sense. However, as this book is the first in a trilogy, I hope that this will be resolved in the books to come. There are 3 points-of-view in this novel, which are all very similar – I always had to check back to remind me which character’s POV it was being told from.
The rights for the film have been sold, and as I was reading the book I thought that it would make a great film. I even believe that it will make a film that is better than the book – I am interested to see what Adeyemi has in store for the series, with Children of Vengeance and Virtue being released very soon!