In school this year, my sixth grade class read The African Mask by Janet E. Rupert. This book is about Yoruba culture in Ancient Western Africa, around Nigeria. The Yoruba believe that there are many orishas around us, but we can’t see them, and each person has an orisha. People can perform rituals and ask the orishas questions, which the orishas then take to the gods. A maji is someone connected to a god, and therefore has the magic of that god, called upon with an incantation. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is also set in Western Africa and is about orishas, maji, and more, which is just one reason why I loved it.
In Children of Blood and Bone, magic has been banned and maji are being hunted by the king and his men. Zélie, a young maji who is not able to manifest, saw her mother be taken away and killed, and is therefore scarred for life. Meanwhile, two artifacts have washed ashore — a scroll and a stone — which have the power to bring magic back to any maji. In the palace of Lagos, Princess Amari realizes her friend and servant, Binta, has disappeared. When she hears she has been taken to her father, Amari decides to go find Binta. When Amari walks in, she sees her father force the scroll into her friend’s hands, and sees beautiful light erupt from her.
Next thing she knows, her father’s sword is through Binta, and a huge weight is put onto Amari. She later snatches the scroll and runs away into a market, her father’s guards in hot pursuit. Amari spots Zélie in the market, and they, along with Zélie’s brother Tzain, are forced to go on an adventure to restore magic. Amari’s brother, Inan, is sent to chase them down, and on this journey he discovers his hidden abilities. It turns out he is partly maji, and has powers as well. When he takes himself and Zélie into a dream, they fight. Eventually, however, Inan is on their side, and he and Zélie fall in love… for now.
Children of Blood and Bone was thrilling and a great book, and I really recommend it.