By Maya Palit
The 23-year-old Nigerian-American author Tomi Adeyemi could be on to something. Her fantasy novel Children of Blood and Bone, the first of a trilogy about a young girl’s battle with a prince over bringing magic back to West Africa, is going to be released some time next year. But it’s already got a seven-figure publishing deal with Macmillan, and a massive deal with Fox Studios too, with the latter acquiring the movie rights pretty early on in the day for a book that hasn’t even been published yet.
Adeyemi read English Literature at Harvard but later focused on studying West African mythology and culture, and is currently based out of San Diego, where amongst other things, she teaches a creative writing workshop. When asked what inspired her to write her books, she said one of the things was the reaction to the black characters in The Hunger Games and the trouble people had in identifying with them. She decided to publish just one book to counter the narrative but didn’t see this deal coming. (Of course, young authors’ books are frequently hyped beyond belief — like the British author Samantha Shannon who got a seven-book deal at 21 for her fantasy series beginning with The Bone People (2013), although apparently it was boring and predictable. Which does make you wonder why we’re so hell-bent on comparing every upcoming successful fantasy saga with Harry Potter.)
This is an extract from the book, available on Adeyemi’s website, which suggests that the story spins off on Yoruba mythology about the Orisha, or divine spirits:
With magic, Zélie’s family could stand against the royal guard. Her people wouldn’t live in fear. Her mom wouldn’t have hanged from that tree. Years after the king wiped magic out of Orïsha, Zélie has one chance to bring it back. To do so, she’ll have to outwit/outrun the crown prince, who’s hell-bent on erasing magic for good.