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"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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Once there, she meets a band of boys, lead by a young man with unusual powers, and goes on a quest to save the ‘Maker’ of the world. Hilarity, sweetness and wonder ensue. This novel was an unexpected pleasure for me. I fully expected to enjoy the premise, but was surprised at some of the ways it bucked clichés and stereotypes.
For starters, the main character, Kamryn, is anything but a damsel in distress. Too often books with this premise opt for a helpless damsel who pathetically cowers in a corner or shyly won’t talk much. Kamryn, while ill-prepared for the land of Ur, has backbone and spunk. Not only does she make friends quickly, she stands up for herself and immediately starts making plans to take self-defense classes whenever she can get herself back home. All this is not to say she isn’t a well-rounded person with her own weaknesses, but when she does suffer from doubts or sadness she handles it well and bounces back. As such, she felt real and relatable.
Williams does an excellent job world-building here, not too much, but just enough to supply my brain what it needed and my imagination was easily able to fill in the rest. Matter of fact, the world-building here was so smooth and seamless, I barely noticed it. Personally, I much prefer this route as a character-centric reader/writer. The land of Ur is an interesting, bright and varied place. I thought the creatures that Williams created to fill this land were fascinating and, if it weren’t for the rather disturbing nature of some of them, would love to see illustrations.
Let’s talk about our supporting characters briefly. The band of young boys, hugely reminiscent of Peter Pan‘s Lost Boys, were a fun addition to the story. I loved how they put Kamryn in a Wendy-esque light, especially since she left 2 young nephews behind in the real world. Each boy was easily discernible and memorable, and I was a little sad that they didn’t feature a bit more in the story.
Paloma added a dollop of interesting to the tale, reminding me of a cross between the Glenda the Good Witch and The Red Queen…yeah, try to figure that one out. I liked that she was eccentric and also quite stubborn, but seemed to have a good heart. We can’t leave out Torin, of course, who seemed to be both a mentor figure to Reese and a brother. I wished for more background on his character, and a little more interaction between him and Reese. He seemed to be the grounding character in this tale of a magical and distant land, and he did it in a warm and persuasive fashion.
Okay, what we have all been waiting for; Reese. I have read a lot (and when I say a lot, you better believe it means a ton) of fantasy books with romantic subplots, which is to say: I’ve met quite a few swoon-worth male leads. Here is the highest compliment I can give this type of character:
Reese stands out. Not because he is extra handsome, or extra flirty or even extra bad-boy. Instead, he stands out because of his weakness. No, he is not a weak, wimpy guy. Far from it. However, he does experience within the plot of this book, moments of extreme physical weakness. Rather than act like a jerk or being super distant, he is able to rise above these moments and work through. That is true strength. Not only that, but the twist in this story reveals a true hardship, both mental and physical that he must conquer. And he goes for it.
I came away from this novel respecting Reese, and admiring him. Sure, he has his swoon-worthy moments, and those are fun, but more than that, he seems to be ‘just what a young man ought to be’ (yeah, there might be a little Bingley in him-Jane Austen fans unite!).
I don’t want to spoil any of the twists and turns within this novel, because I enjoyed the guessing game so much myself. A few of them I was able to figure out early on, a couple pleasantly surprised me. It had definite ties to The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan, but Williams made it her own, and original. This novel was fun, entertaining, and though-provoking — the perfect afternoon diversion out of reality. I loved the time I spent with her characters, and I’m definitely looking forward to discovering more of her books.
Kam is a fun heroine with realistic reactions to being thrown into a strange land. And Reese is an ideal hero. Strong and commanding, he's also vulnerable. He's attracted to Kam even though her touch causes him physical pain he shouldn't be able to feel.
Illusionary is a tight, well-paced story that gets better and better. There's good foreshadowing and and a climax that gutted me.
I would have liked to have had a bit more detail of the story world.
I really hope we get to return to Ur!
It is a whimsical adventure full of delightful magical aspects! The characters are extraordinary and the story is absolutely captivating!
This book has earned a spot at the very top of my "Read Annually" list.
Unique, Engaging, Humorous, Creative, Magical---Brilliant!!!
I mean, this book starts out cute and funny (and Kam is a pretty funny heroine throughout, by the way.) Then the parallel world escapades begin. I'll confess that it took me a while to catch up with the romance, as I didn't enter as quickly or deeply into "the feelings" as the heroine and hero did. And my overall interest waned a tad through some of the traveling and in-between parts.
But the story would stop me in my tracks in places, sometimes with a single, spoken word. "Heal." "Hope."
"But hope...now that's a mighty thing," Kamryn says. You've got that right, sister! And before and after a crucial twist, this story presents an assortment of other wonderfully woven themes: growing up and innocence, grief and illness and regret, finding out who you really are and what you're capable of. True bravery!
It's a fantasy tale like The Chronicles of Narnia in that it'll speak to you on multiple levels if you have the ears to hear it—but whether you go to those other levels or not, it's still a darn good adventure.
And I'll have you all know, I had to push past imminent tears to even write this review. Good grief, Desiree Williams...
I received an advance review copy of this book from the author for an honest review.
Most recent customer reviews
First of all this story is a book worms dream. So many references!Read more