Tomi Adeyemi's debut YA novel, Children of Blood and Bone, is the first of a trilogy set in the kingdom of Orisha where magic has been outlawed and all practitioners of those mystical arts targeted for death.
Zelie is seventeen and marked by her white hair as a diviner(a person whose magical talents have not surfaced). Upon rescuing Princess Amari, she joins the quest to bring magic back into their world with the use of an ancient scroll, which could work best during the upcoming solstice.
Zelie's older brother Tzain joins them as they try to stay a step ahead of Amari's own male sibling Inan, who has been sent by their father King Saran, to stop her before a final item is found that would make all the difference in accomplishing their magical mission.
Adeyemi's book has become an instant hit, praised for the depth of it's characters, the strong world building with West African culture at it's narrative core and strong female leads as well as breathing new life into the genre. Film rights were sold in advance of publication,which means we have a wonderful new series to read along and watch for at the movies in the future.
She's being called the new J.K Rowling but my guess is that Tomi Adeyemi is not following in anyone else's footsteps here. Rather, she's breaking fresh new ground that will allow others to join her as a more diverse path of entertainment unfolds before us all:
Meanwhile, Madeline Miller has followed up her successful debut novel, The Song of Achilles. with Circe, putting the legendary sorceress center square in the storytelling spotlight.
From her awkward childhood among the glamorous yet greedy gods to her exile on a certain isle that becomes a port of call for many sea travelers, Circe struggles to find her own identity and place in the world.
Eventually learning to wield magic that allows her power over false friends and enemies alike, Circe becomes more than just the wicked enchantress that her encounter with Odysseus made her out to be. She turns out to be quite the force to be reckoned with and then some.
Word of mouth for both Song of Achilles and Circe has been unanimous in reader joy for the gorgeous flow of the writing and how Miller makes these classical characters of Greek mythology come to vivid life on the page. I haven't read her works yet but I suspect that I will soon be able to join the chorus of bookish praise being sung in her honor:
A group of college friends,who met in private school, take a road trip that leads them far from any mortal destination. Our narrator is Beatrice, who has just finished her freshman year and while happy to be going to a concert with her old school pals, still shares their guilt over the unexpected death of a mutual friend.
When a near miss on the road takes them to the title location, the mysterious Keeper lets all assembled know that they will remain in their time loop limbo until a decision is made about who will be returned to the land of the living. Beatrice does her best to offer reasonable arguments to everyone on that score but the choice becomes harder and harder to make.
I'm familiar with Pessl's adult themed work, such as Night Film, and her mix of philosophy and surrealism with conventional sounding plots is intriguing to behold. How this will translate to a teen audience, I can not say but I would describe this story as a cross between Donna Tartt's The Secret History and the hit horror movie, Happy Death Day, if that helps:
There's much more out there but I think that these three ladies are definitely major ones to watch for. Like most genres, fantasy has seen it's share of ups and downs on the pop culture playing field yet it does always manage to rise back up just when we need it the most.
One of the best ways to look at reality is to check out what our fantasy realms have to offer and while not every new book has that take on things, you may find that there is plenty of crucial commentary beneath the seemingly shiny surface: