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Synopsis:

“Zelie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames. Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed once magic disappeared. Under the orders if a ruthless king, the maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zelie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zelie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zelie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orisha, where snow leopanaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest treat may be Zelie herself as she struggles to control her powers–and her growing feelings for an enemy.”

Review:

My feelings on this book are very mixed.

Back in December of last year, I was very fortunate to receive a partial Advanced Readers Copy of this book for review from NetGalley. I was able to read the first 6 chapters of the book and from what I had read then, I was enthralled. I need the full book at that very moment.

When I decided to pick this as my book club’s pick for the month of March, everyone involved was excited. I put a hold on a copy from my local library and when it finally came in, I started reading it almost immediately (I say almost because I had to put it down to read a book for a read-a-thon that I was participating in).

Unfortunately from there, the story just kind of went downhill for me.

Starting off with the characters, I really enjoyed all of them. Zelie was a very headstrong main character. Willing to do whatever she had to do to get what she wanted. Independent. Those are the words best used to describe Zelie. Then we have Amari, my favorite character in this book. Again, another headstrong character. Very reminiscent of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. Then finally, rounding off the characters we get perspectives from in this book, we have Inan. The villain of the story and Amari’s brother. He was a character I had a love/hate relationship with.  I liked getting the perspective of the story through the main villain’s eyes but at the same time, he was so whiny. And then when he went to the light side per say, he was way too overprotective of his sister and Zelie. Yes I know these are the 2 people you care for the most Inan but seriously give them some space and let them do what they want.

Then going into the romance, this was one of the problem spots for me. I loved the romance between Amari and Tzain. This is the kind of relationship I wanted for all of the characters involved in this book. It was cute and fluffy in a way. Then we have the romance between Zelie and Inan. I did not approve of this relationship. There was barely any development or chemistry between the two of them. There were times that I did not mind the relationship but I wish that it had been more flushed out than it was.

Going into the plot, this is were my feelings are the most mixed. For the most part I had no problem with the storyline itself. It was gripping and engaging right from the start. It has this on the edge of your seat type of pace that I love. It was original and like nothing that I had ever read. But at the same time, it was not without its flaws. There was almost no world building. Also the plot was a little repetitive for my personal taste. If the book had been maybe 50 pages shorter, I would have enjoyed it much more than I did.

Finally going into the diversity, this was my favorite aspect of this book. It is own voices for the African culture as the author is Nigerian-American. Though I have heard some negative things about some of the culture representation from own voices reviewers, through my eyes, as someone who is not part of that culture, it was great to see that culture represented. Especially in a YA fantasy book.

Overall, though my feeling are mixed, I do think this book is worth the hype that it has been getting around the bookish community. It is beautifully written and Adeyemi definitely impressed me write off the bat with her debut novel. I believe this has been picked up for a movie and I NEED to see it RIGHT NOW! I’m sure that it will be just as great as the book was.

RATING; 3.5/5

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