Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
We spend no time in each conflict. I can understand flying on the way to Chândomblé so that we can get into the meat of the story, but every conflict is immediately resolved for Zélie. She needs to find the temple, she finds it in the next chapter. She needs her magic back, she is awakened almost immediately and has little to no trouble controlling or understanding powers she has never known. She needs to find a stone and only knows a little bit about where it was last, conveniently, she emerges from the desert in the exact town she needs to be in and the stone is there too. We never get to stew in the tension or let it rise at all. They find an arena, people take a single page to fight in the arena, Zélie discovers a little inconvenience about her magic.
Inan also shows immediate prowess with his powers and he should be fighting a lifetime of believing magic to be evil. His acceptance and use of magic should come much later in the book.
At least for the first 200 or so pages, I feel like a lot has been cut out. I’m missing some characterization. I’m missing some relationship building. I’m obviously missing some scenes because so much has happened in so few words.
It’s fantasy. I will readily read a 1,000 page book with giant leopards and magic tribes. All you need to do is make it available.
My other issue is that I was almost 3/4 of the way through the book when I finally felt like I was getting to the meat of the story, where the Inan and Zelie ship finally starts to sail.
That being said, I did enjoy the world building and the characters, even with a sizable chunk missing. The world is clearly it’s own and Adeyemi’s work is incredibly detailed. Her writing is wonderful and full of images, right down to the colors of fur on each of the mounts. I hope she slows down a bit for her next installment, which I eagerly await.