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Review: Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Book: Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

Children of Virtue and Vengeance was the gripping sequel to Children of Blood and Bone. I enjoyed it overall, although it suffered a bit of ‘second book syndrome’. It took the story to new heights and the consequences of their actions were graver than ever before.

After the shattering conclusion of the previous book, Orïsha was in a great state of upheaval. Although the ritual went wrong,  Zélie achieved her goal of returning magic to the magi but she also accidentally awoke it in the nobility. She ended up creating a new type of magic wielder called tîtans who unlike the magi didn’t need incantations for their magic to flow. This added a new dimension to the story and raised the stakes even higher than they already were. The irony of it was that she gave her enemies more power to use against her people and while  the nobility hated the magi for their magic, most of them felt justified in using it themselves. Both magi and titans pushed the boundaries of their magic beyond belief accomplishing staggering feats and using it creatively. Although I don’t think the ways in which they used their magic was explained very well it was still exciting to read.

In many books that feature ‘the return of magic’ trope it seems to be a force for good however in this one magic’s return made Orïsha more divided than ever before.  Both Zélie and Amari  wanted to fix what they’d done and unite the people but ended up having very different ways of going about it.

Amari wanted to take the throne and bring about peace but her mother was determined to stand in her way (if you thought Amari’s father was bad just wait until you meet her mother). She was a powerful tîtan and she wanted to use her power for good. She ended up joining the magi with Zélie but they were determined to make her an outcast. Her desperate need to prove her worth and end the war along with her father’s words that still haunted her , ‘Strike Amari,’ made her make some very questionable decisions. Her quest for peace made her think that any sacrifice was worth the cost and I think she lost herself a bit in this book.

Zélie was destroyed by all that had happened to her in the previous book. She felt like she had done enough and she wanted to run as far away as she could from everything. Gradually though she found her light in the other magi and it was nice seeing her open up again. My main concern was the degradation of her trust in Amari. Their friendship was one of my favourite parts of Children of Blood and Bone and suddenly in this book they seemed to turn on each other at every hurdle which was extremely out of character in my opinion. Why couldn’t they just have a healthy, strong friendship?

However, I liked Zelie’s camaraderie with her students, especially her second. I also liked her relationship with Roën even though it was a bit rushed because they go well together. For most of it I wasn’t sure if I could trust Roën or not but I was shipping them by the end. I really wanted Tzain to get some more character development because he was less of a prominent character in this book and it was a shame. It would have been nice to learn more about him and see his brother-sister relationship with Zélie develop more.

I think the main themes of this book were the dangers of hate . Both sides were blinded by their hatred for one another that neither could see sense, neither could see that their actions were stoking the flames of war not bringing it to an end. Their hate brought more hate and it fuelled them to use their power to destroy not build.  Zelie’s blind hatred towards Inan and towards herself for still having feelings for him stopped her from seeking peace when he truly offered it. Although to be fair, I wasn’t sure if Inan would have stuck to any peace agreement anyway. He couldn’t stick to his own decisions and beliefs and I just wanted him to make up his mind- he was more annoying than ever.

I think the weakest point of this novel was the plot. It felt as if it was going around in circles at some points and not really progressing. The plot twist at the end  was completely out of the blue. At the time, it was thrilling and elicited a great amount of shock from me. On reflection though, it was a bit too sudden– like if it was thrown in there to create enough plot for another book.

Overall, I did like Children of Virtue and Vengeance. Some parts were stronger than the first book, some parts weren’t and it might not have fully lived up to my expectations but it was still an enjoyable and diverse fantasy adventure with rich world building and I do want to read the final book in the trilogy to see how it all will end.

Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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