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A Story that sticks with you past the last page!
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What I Loved: This story takes place in mythical Orisha, but with the inspiration and roots in West Africa it feels very rich and established in culture. Zelie Adebola is a diviner forged in the injustices that her family has endured for having magic in her blood in a kingdom that wishes to erase people like her. What started as a chance encounter with Princess Amari and a stolen scroll becomes a race against time to save her people.
At every step, they are pursued by Prince Inan who wants to see magic end forever but now has a streak of magic awakened in him when he brushed the scroll. His character was maybe my favorite. It physically hurt him to suppress his magic but he’s been so brainwashed into rejecting magic that he struggles to accept himself. He is drawn to Zelie and while he wants to hate and kill her to protect Orisha she may be the only one that can help him find balance and bring peace to his kingdom.
The story was told from the alternating perspectives of Zelie, Amari, and Inan. Each character underwent a mental and emotional journey as well as a physical quest. Zelie has a lot of trauma and despair in her past after her mother’s brutal death and her father’s beating. She slowly learns to hope again for a better future for people with magic in their blood. Amari was the sheltered princess and slowly gains confidence and understanding about the world. Inan has always been the dutiful son seeking his father’s approval. With magic awakened in his blood and knowing it is a death sentence if it is discovered, he is unwillingly forced to question his beliefs and his place in the world.
Final Verdict: This is a raw and emotional first step in trying to balance Orisha into a country that accepts all of its people. With clear parallels drawn from injustices in the real world, it is ripe for discussion and to inspire activism to change our reality to be one that accepts all of our people as a safe place to thrive. This book has heart and will make you think and hurt alongside the characters. With a heart-pounding ending, it is a good thing the sequel is already available.
I did partly use an audiobook with this story and the narrator was a wonderful addition to bringing the world to life. Her voice had so much emotion and passion that it made it hard to put down. Her familiarity with the Yoruba language made those rich details more accurate than if I was butchering them in my head and gave the story the added touch of magic to make this a story that sticks with you even when the last page is finished.

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