After planning to read Tomi Adeyemi’s breakout YA novel Children of Blood and Bone for over a month, I finally finished it a little while ago, and it was DEFINITELY the fantasy book that I knew I needed, but wasn’t too sure I was going to get during my lifetime. But I got it, and reading it was a very magical experience!
All the way from the author, to each and every female character in the book, Children of Blood and Bone never ran out of instances of #BlackGirlMagic. And after decades of it being beaten like the dead horse that it is, this novel also retired the trope of the “magical negro.” The only thing we got in this book were magical GIRLS, no negroes! Can you say #BlackGirlMagic?
And not only were the girls full of #BlackGirlMagic, but so was their hair! NEVER in my life had I seen an author take so much time and detail to describe and praise Black hair in written form, but Tomi Adeyemi did it, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever experienced. I wanted to cry with all of the imagery she invoked when describing everyones’ hair in its natural state.
In life, natural hair is usually seen as “bad” hair (a term we also need to retire), especially when it’s not of a certain texture and length, but this novel showcased all types of hair as being “good” hair (a term that makes me cringe like no other), and for the Diviners, the characters who are constantly persecuted by the King, the coilier their hair was, the better!
Their hair is literally magical, and the more magical prowess they possess, the coilier their tresses become. It was very different to see that because in pretty much any other occasion in life, it’s quite the opposite. The straighter your hair is, the easier it’ll be for it to be accepted in society, but not in Orisha (the place where Children of Blood and Bone takes place)!
As the book’s main character Zélie regained more and more of her magical abilities, her hair also become more magical as well. She started off the book with no magical abilities whatsoever and pin-straight hair, but by the book’s end, she was a very strong Diviner (soon to be a Maji, hopefully!) with shrinkage to the gods. And funny that I should mention the gods because they’re a huge part of the story, and for her crown (another word Adeyemi used to describe coily hair in the novel) to grow in the direction of them is such a divine detail!
The hairstyles in Orisha ranged from angelic puffs to thick braids to flowing locs to even hair that was compared to a lionaire’s (a powerful female animal only found in Orisha) mane, so think full-on fro!
And as Zélie’s hair became more coily and coarse, so did her “tender headedness.” Occasionally, Amari, the absconding princess, would comb Zélie’s hair in a very loving and sisterly way, a way for the two girls to bond. And for Black girls and women getting your hair done is a very intimate and integral part of who we are. By the time we got to the end of the book, Zélie was reminded of all of the times that her mother (who was lynched at the King’s command) had also lovingly combed her hair growing up and how “tender headed” she was.
The braids Zélie sported in the final scene were done with LOTS of patience and care, something that Black girls don’t always get from society.
Reading this book felt like my past. But it also felt like my present and future, too! Not often do we see a fantasy novel featuring African deities and melanated characters with kinky hair at every twist and turn (pun completely intended), but Children of Bone finally brought us all of these things and more!
I want all of the little Black girls out there to read this book and see how magical they truly are, and how beautiful their hair truly is. Perhaps we’ll have an entire generation of #MagicalBlackGirls walking around knowing their worth from day one. That would be a sight to behold! And for some reason, I believe it could happen…
If you haven’t already, I HIGHLY suggest giving Children of Blood and Bone a read! It’s a fresh take on a lot of familiar (and not so familiar) themes, and it’s sure to brighten up your library! And if you want to hear my entire opinion of the novel (and want to learn how to make Zobo), check out the full review on my YouTube channel!
In the comments, I’d love to hear all of your thoughts and impressions on Children of Blood and Bone. What’d you think about the characters? The story? The hair? Anything is fair game over here. I want to hear it all! So comment away!
Thanks for reading y’all! And until next time, stay magical~