Updated: Nov 20, 2020
Zélie is a girl from a fisherman's town. Her mother was murdered, along with every other maji (men and women with white hair who wield magic through their relationship with the gods) who was over the age of 13 by the king, immediately after magic mysteriously disappeared. Every day she and her family are haunted by the loss of their matriarch and the brutality of her murder. As a maji herself, she is secretly training to defend herself.
Amari is a young princess whose hand maiden and best friend, Binta, is a maji. She bears silent witness to the oppression of the "maggots", a slur the king uses to describe the maji he persecutes. After witnessing Binta's murder at the hands of her father, the king, she takes a scroll with the potential to bring magic back and escapes the castle. She runs into Zélie and they begin a quest to return magic, and the connection to the gods, back.
Inan is Amari's brother, the future king of Orïsha. He is sent on a secret mission to bring Amari, and the scroll, back to the king. Will he choose to follow in his father's footsteps paved in tyranny and the blood of the repressed, or will he choose a new path for himself, his kingdom, and the future of magic?
While there were a few questions I still had at the end of the book, it paved the way for a sequel, and I absolutely cannot wait for it to be published.
This book gave me ALL the feels. I felt Zélie's pain and loss, and her daily fear for her own life and the lives of her family. Ms. Adeyemi wrote this book as an "allegory of the modern black experience." As such it is POWERFUL. As a witness to the Birmingham Galleria Mall shooting, it gave me a glimpse into the mind of the racial minority, and I have to say, it horrified me. To think that in the year 2019 that people could still feel this way is appalling. The world needs a voice like Ms. Adeyemi's.
This book reminds me a bit of Animal Farm, in the way that it is an onion. On the outside, it's a fun read, with magic and excitement and characters I loved and loved to hate. But on the inside, there are metaphors, political statements, and lessons. I feel like this will be on someone's high school reading list soon. And did I mention it's going to be a movie?
I expect to see BIG things in the future for Tomi Adeyemi, and I cannot wait to see what she will write next!
Preorder the sequel here: https://amzn.to/2CTDjs2