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Tomi Adeyemi Books In Order

Publication Order of Legacy of Orisha Books

Children of Blood and Bone (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Children of Virtue and Vengeance (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Tomi Adeyemi is Nigerian American author who also doubles up as a creative writing coach. She is best known for the critically acclaimed title “Children of Blood and Bone” the first in a trilogy named “Legacy of Orisha”. Adeyemi went to Harvard University from where she graduated with an English literature honors degree. Soon after she got a fellowship and moved to Salvador in Brazil to study West African culture and mythology. She made her name when her debut novel “Children of Blood and Bone” claimed a seven figure book advance deal and a movie deal to boot. The novel is currently in development by Temple Hill/Fox 2000 and is being produced by Marty Bowen and Karen Rosenfelt. When she is not writing her young adult novels, she loves to teach her 4500 aspiring authors on her blog or watch Scandal.

Tomi Adeyemi is the middle child among three siblings, with a younger sister still in college and the first born brother a musician. She was born to a career medic father and a mother who is the administrator of a group of hospices in the Chicago suburbs. The seeds for her novel were sown when she was doing her fellowship in Brazil. It all came to her while she was standing inside a gift shop that has beautiful African goddesses and gods depicted in such as reverent way. The experience made her think about black people and how they hardly featured in any meaningful way in culture. As such, she set out to tell the story of Zelie, a fisherman’s daughter that teams up with a motley crew of friends and enemies that go back to the fictional country of Orisha on a quest to reawaken its magic. Inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement and West African mythology, the country of Orisha is a metaphor for the contemporary black experience.

“Children of Blood and Bone” takes the best of young adult fantasy fiction including tormented soldiers, princesses and the battle to suppress or restore magic. It is a fast paced and action packed adventure that at its core is about completing rituals to restore the power of magic over Orisha before it is lost to the generation forever. However, underneath the fantasy elements are darker themes and an intense plot. Drawing parallels with the contemporary world the novel deals with injustice in the justice systems, systemic racism, and racially charged violence. Zelie the lead protagonist of the series had lost her mother to the genocide that had been ordered by the evil king. But Zolie is still a maji – a diviner whose abilities are dormant having lost her magic when she lost an important artifact that instructs her on how to reawaken her powers. The novels is told from a variety of perspectives that include that of Zelie, Inan who is Amara’s brother and Princess Amara. It comes with interesting yet complex character that evolve and grow over the course of the novel to become better persons.

The convergence of themes reminiscent of Black Lives Matter also draws from an unheralded tradition that draws inspiration from West African mythology. Following from the works of Octavia Butler and Samuel Delany, Tomi Adeyemi’s work is one of the leading novels in the great movement for Afrofuturism that works African traditions into award winning fantasy and science fiction. The novels explore possibility and social power, which shape their characters and drive their plots to provide both instruction and thrall. In structure, the novel follows the likes of “Harry Potter” by J.K. Rawlings or “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. In fact, Adeyemi has asserted that the Hunger Games were some of her major inspirations for the world building in her own “Children of Blood and Bone”. The novel was written as a response to the racist backlash against “The Hunger Games”, which had been demonized for casting black actors in some major roles. As such, Adeyemi set out to write a novel that had an all-black cast in Orisha that is unmistakably non Western in tradition. Tomi Adeyemi also gives a twist to the tale of individual drama that had become a staple in the post-Ferguson era.

Adeyemi’s novel tells the story of the struggles of the Maji which are intertwined with the actions of their supposedly superiors. Recalling the darker skinned persons of the United States who live in a country full of white people the Maji also live in similar circumstances. The Maji were once magic wielders that had power over life and death and elicited respect and fear from the rulers of Orisha. However over time the empire had changed such that the more light skinned persons had power and status while the Maji were made into slaves and serfs. Zelia Adebola is fighting against the erasure of the identity of the Maji and knows that the only way she can do it is by getting back a mystical artifact that belongs to her ancestors. The focus of the book is on the obstacles to Zelie’s mission that clearly stage scenes that parallel black death and police brutality in America. Following the cinematic conventions of the genre close calls, guardsmen on the chase, convergence of unlikely paths, and gleam of sabers come in quick succession. However, just as Tomi Adeyemi addresses issues of class and race in America, she also goes deeper into themes the inter-sectional and complicated themes of domination.

“Children of Blood and Bone” is the first of the Legacy of Orisha trilogy by Tomi Adeyemi. It opens to Zelie Adebola remembering a time when her native land of Orisha was full of magic and life. Zelie’s mother was a reaper that brought forth any soul she wanted, tiders called upon waves, and burners brought forth flames. But one night all the magic disappeared and their world was never the same again. The ruthless king ordered the targeting and killing of the Maji, and Zelie suddenly found herself an orphan child without a people or any hope. She now has a chance to strike back at the evil king and bring back the power he had robbed her people of. Working with Zara a rogue princess, she can manage to outrun and outwit the prince charged with tracking them down and ensuring they never reawaken their magic. Orisha is a dangerous place full of vengeful water spirits and snow leopards that walk the night. But the biggest threat to Orisha may yet be Zelie who still has trouble controlling her new found powers and hatred for the enemy.

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