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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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But I am so glad I did...
From the blurb, I expected something along the lines of A Mid-Summer Night's Dream but I got so much more than that! Sure there are some similarities of Mid-Summer in there but I also found some elements from Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, and even a little Romeo and Juliet. Holy cow! It was like a Shakespearean smorgasbord! There was some witty banter between characters which I simply adore. There was strong female characters, another big plus for me. There was some confusion and misdirection that kept me on my toes and kept me tied to the computer screen until I finished reading the book in it's entirety. It was cleverly written and lived up to the Shakespearean hype, earning a 5-Star rating.
As you can tell from the plays I mentioned, the story isn't just straight rom-com. There are elements of intrigue and deception and much more hidden in this story. There were multiple times when I would ponder the possible outcomes--how it would all play out, who was responsible for X or Y, or if there was going to be a HEA or how they would make it happen--and as soon as I thought I figured it out, something else would happen and I would scrap my theories and start again. I found the fantasy label a little misleading as well, at first. That more than anything made me expect something along the lines of Mid-Summer but the story read more like a historical fiction--castles, period fashion, nobility and fealty--you get the picture. The presence of a few modern phrases and concepts (and mindsets) creeping into the text and the fact that one character had premonitions of future events are what made me accept the fantasy label in the end.
The story was incredible. It is told in third person, but it does switch perspectives amongst the four main characters. Each section is marked with the initials of the character so there is no confusion as to who is the central character in the scene. The story itself is a mash up of so many stories and yet it was uniquely it's own. If they hadn't boasted the tale as Shakespeare-like, I don't know that I would have immediately connected it to his works. But with that little nugget of information, I looked for elements and compared them to plays that I know and love and I was pleased to see the story surpass my expectations. The authors did an amazing job creating a story that flowed well, kept me interested, and lacked predictability.
Of course, my review of any book wouldn't be complete without the discussion on characterization. Anyone familiar with my reviews knows that one of the critical selling points for me is well developed characters. Well, this book definitely has that. I'll start with the women. Kenzie is strong and strong willed but she has a sense of duty that tempers her actions but not always her mouth. She is in a strange land where everything from her gender to her status causes society to pile on very different expectations than her homeland. Vivianne is the victim of abuse but she still has a quiet strength that carries her through the most difficult situations. She doesn't have the ambitions of her sister, Victory, who has her sights set on the crown prince, instead she just wants to be with the man she loves and escape her cruel family. Now on to the men. Garron is kinda like a bystander that gets sucked in without knowing the whys and hows. His part in the story kind of reminds me of Shrek--he sets off to do one thing and it all goes sideways. He has a sense of duty and propriety but he also is compassionate and that leads to other emotions he doesn't exactly know how to handle at first but he eventually figures it out. Kadrean is probably one of the most complex characters in the bunch. The first impression of him isn't so great but as the story goes on more and more facets of his character are revealed. Then you get to the point where it's like, "Dammit, I didn't want to like him!" but you do because you just can't help it. There are other great characters sprinkled in that you either love or hate with good reason--Cyril, Niklaus, Creston, Victory, Vance, etc.--each one is expertly crafted and brings life to the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was a great read and even though it had me spending way too much time staring at my monitor during my reading binge, I regret nothing!
The twists and turns in this romantic comedy end with a few surprises, and leaves the reader feeling satisfied and ready for the next romp in the Ismeran world! Bravo, ladies!