Winter Reading Pick: “Children of Virtue and Vengeance”

Literary columnist Amy Haimerl on the book you and your kids won’t be able to put down
Children of Virtue and Vengeance
Photograph courtesy of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Children of Blood and Bone is the first installment of the epic fantasy trilogy Legacy of Orïsha, by Tomi Adeyemi — a 26-year-old Nigerian-American author. It came out in 2018, immediately blowing up The New York Times Bestseller list. The story of a world that lost its magic and one girl’s fight to bring it back — and save her people — is now slated to be made into a movie by Lucasfilms.

The sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Henry Holt and Co., 2019), hit stores this month. It’s the kind of book that neither you nor the kids in your life will want to put down. The magic is back, but all is not well. Now everyone can harness the power, and Orïsha is on the brink of civil war between the elites and the magi. And only our protagonist, Zélie, has the power to save her world.    

When Adeyemi came to Detroit last year for her book tour, she met students at Garvey Academy who had read Children of Blood and Bone. They gushed over the story.

Why? It’s a well-plotted story of a young black girl who harnesses her magic to fight for her world. But it’s also about race, class, and power — in the same way Harry Potter is both about wizards and the battle between good and evil. Or that Lord of the Rings is about hobbits and thirst for power. The trilogy tackles complex issues through a young adult lens, allowing for smart allegories for our own world and page-turning fun.

Amy Haimerl is a professor of journalism at Michigan State University; author of Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Love, Life and Home; and founder of the Shady Ladies Literary Society.