After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.
Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But with civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.
You know when you read the first book in the series and it’s a masterpiece. It’s such an exceptional piece of work that you become desperate for the next book. To feel how you felt during the first book. To feel that high that feels like you’re flying just to be immersed into a world that you grew to love.
But then, you pick up the second book and fall flat on your face.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance is this feeling summed up.
And this is coming from a Tomi Adeyemi stan. Considering, I reviewed Children of Blood and Bone in February (It was the first book I ever reviewed) and it’s taken me this long to review the second. You can tell already I’ve been putting this off for so long.
Because then I would have to come to terms with the fact, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would.
That being said the cover of this book is beautiful.
I know it’s because Children of Blood and Bone was incredible. I’m not even sure you can really top a book like that. I’m sure Tomi Adeyemi felt immense pressure to live up to the standards society had created for her. And Children of Virtue and Vengeance fell just short of it.
It suffered from a classic case of SBS or Second Book Syndrome.
It joins the likes of so many other books. It’s rare that I actually like the second book in the series more than the first. I can only think of Inkspell by Cornelia Funke and The Dragon Republic by R.F Kuang or even, Knife Edge by Malorie Blackman.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance WASN’T terrible. I just want to make that absolutely clear. It still carries all the themes of classism, colourism and racism throughout. If it wasn’t following behind Children of Blood and Bone, I probably would have enjoyed it. I just felt like the characters grew increasingly annoying. I hated the way Zélie was portrayed. She was constantly angry. And Amari? Well, she could just get in the bin. I was sick of her by the last three chapters. As for Inan? I expected more growth from him. He needed to grow a backbone and it became increasingly annoying the longer I had to witness him make stupid decisions. And, what do I have to do to get a chapter from Tzain’s pov???
I guess this book just made me think about selfishness and how the actions of one can truly devastate the lives of so many. When I look back on this book and I think of Amari’s actions and how she truly believed that she was doing what was right. I just felt like I grew so annoyed with her that I struggled to enjoy the book. It felt like every other page she was doing something incredibly stupid. And her constant arguing with Zelie felt unnecessary at times. During the last few chapters, I was ready for her to be written out of the plot altogether. Maybe it’s a testament to Tomi Adeyemi’s fantastic writing that I went from liking her in book one to hating her in book two. I hope she gets a redemption arc in book three.
I think what I liked was how the magic was developed in the second book. It can be really hard to write about supernatural elements in a way that can be imagined and understood by everyone that’s reading it. I’ve read a number of fantasy books in my life and I’ve seen authors that do it exceptionally well and others that only really get into it by the end of the first book. Tomi Adeyemi mastered it from the very first book but I really didn’t think it could get any better. After watching Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix earlier this year, I could see just how incredibly influenced Tomi Adeyemi was by the show. There are particular scenes that I have to applaud her for because they were simply very well written.
If anything, I felt like the novel was setting us up for the third and final book, which is why I can’t fault it too much. It was clear that this was mainly plot driven leading to something more explosive, which reminds me…
What in the flipping heck was that ending?
One thing I can say about Tomi Adeyemi is that she knows how to leave people desperate to know more. Whenever, I think about it I get chills. The first book was definitely heavily influenced by racism and police brutality in America but this second book screamed ‘slavery’ and ‘colonialisation’. And that ending only reaffirmed that. I think it’s because it’s entirely out of nowhere. That ending saved this entire book.
That being said, I am willing to wait however long Tomi Adeyemi needs to write an incredible finale to this amazing series. This series made me realise just how limited my imagination was and I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for it.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance served its purpose in building up apprehension for this magical world.
Children of Blood and Bone Review: