Before you read any further, you’re going to have to promise me that you can keep a secret. You see, I am penning down this article under the guise of writing a profile about Tomi Adeyemi. In reality, I just wanted an excuse to write about The Legacy of Orisha series. Here, we have Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance.
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Growing up, I felt that western writers were better than Nigerian writers, especially when it came to fantasy. Children of Blood and Bone was one of the books that changed my perspective. But if I’m actually being honest with you, I can’t adequately speak about the book’s importance without talking about Tomi Adeyemi. That would be similar to analyzing The Mona Lisa without mentioning Da Vinci.
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A lot of people refer to her as the new J.K. Rowling, and her books as the Nigerian Harry Potter. Personally, I find that impressive. It is a pointer to what she has been able to achieve with her books. When talking about her reasons for writing The Legacy of Orisha, Tomi Adeyemi said, “I had a lot of different reasons for writing the book but at its core was the desire to write for black teenage girls growing up reading books they were absent from. That was my experience as a child. Children of Blood and Bone is my chance to address that. To say you are seen.”
Well, I am certainly not a black teenage girl but after reading Children of Blood and Bone, I felt so proud. Tomi Adeyemi took our Yoruba legends and gods and made magic with them – both literally and figuratively.
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When you read fantasy books by western authors as a Nigerian, you find it hard to relate to what is written. You see cultures, beliefs, and characters that are completely different from you and what you know. For those of us with a love for fantasy, this makes our love a love that is unrequited, a love that is not intimate. Children of Blood and Bone makes that love personal for us. It makes our love of fantasy intimate and more. Tomi Adeyemi created a story for “a little black girl” who wanted to have a “crazy, magical adventure even if an ignorant part of the world tells her she can never be Hermione Granger.”
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At this point, I have to, once again, reference Tomi’s reputation as the new J.K. Rowling. Children of Blood and Bone was birthed from the culture of our Nigerian People. Tomi Adeyemi built a world with it, using the dreams of a little black girl as her blueprint. And because of this, I will continue to disagree with any and all attempts to reduce what she has done to a mere comparison. Children of Blood and Bone is the little black girl’s assurance that someone out there sees her, and Tomi Adeyemi is the woman who cared enough to give that to her. So, while we acknowledge Tomi by giving her the honorific status of “The New J.K. Rowling”, it is also important to remember exactly who she is, and what she has succeeded in creating.