(Buy it HERE.)
Let me begin this review by putting on my flame retardant suit and face mask.
sighOkay, I get that people love this book, and the series it forms the center of. I even get why they love it. I want to love it, too. It’s fantasy, it’s epic, it’s romantic (sorta), it’s written by a black woman, and it’s super-duper, Afro-pick with a fist, fufu and plantain, cocoa butter and respect your elders BLACK. Not just Black, Black and feminine. Lord knows we need more books and authors like this out here in these spec-fic streets and based on that alone, this got a pre-order and preliminary 3 star rating from me.
However none of that erases the fact that this is a bone dry, 90 chapter, by-the-numbers monstrosity that messily changes point of view every 5 pages or so and is full of whiny teenage angst that leads to murder, death and mutilation for no real reason except that all the adults who show up are crazy and our main characters generally have the relationship skills of pounded yam. They’re also so boring that I don’t remember their names and can’t be bothered to look them up. Sure, there’s magic, there’s love triangles, there’s all the ingredients of a successful YA fantasy book but man. This is really the cold grits of fantasy fiction–unenjoyable to take in and hard to digest, but you eat it up anyway for the culture. The book really doesn’t become genuinely enjoyable to read until the last 15 chapters or so. Up until then I was just struggling through the bad prose and dull personalities thinking DEAR GOD THERE’S GOING TO BE ANOTHER BOOK WHY AND YO, TOMI PLEASE STOP ADDING -AIRE TO ALL THE ANIMAL NAMES LIKE THAT’S SPECIAL IT’S JUST ANNOYING AHHHHH…
That said, read this anyway. Game of Thrones has even worse writing, and the land of Orisha will make a much better TV show whenever it happens. Read this, because we need to increase the presence of Africa and black people in our speculative collective consciousness and they don’t all have to be genius, they just have to *be*. (I’ve talked about that a bunch here.) Then go read N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler and Nalo Hopkinson, because all Black women who are speculative fiction writers need love (and the preceding four happen to be geniuses.)
3 out of 5 stars to Children of Virtue and Vengeance.
(Beautiful people, this was one of my more disappointing reads, but if you think you might like it, feel free to click and buy. The cover is gorgeous and looks pretty on your bookshelf, even if you don’t like it. If you do click and buy, be aware that this blog has an affiliate relationship with Bookshop and any purchases will result in a commission being paid. Peace! )