Tomi Adeyemi wants to wrap her readers in a “dangerous but warm” blanket. Her young adult novels—the hit epic Children of Blood and Boneand its highly anticipated new sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance—combine escapist fantasy with clear-eyed confrontations of race and power. “I was thinking: you’re creating a Snuggie,” the Nigerian-American author tells TIME. “It’s a violent Snuggie, but create the Snuggie.”
Adeyemi’s first book, which came out in 2018 and has spent 90 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, transports readers to the kingdom of Orïsha, where teenager Zélie Adebola is determined to bring magic back to her oppressed people. In the novel inspired by West Africa, Adeyemi’s protagonist teams up with a rogue princess to help fight the monarchy, which mercilessly wiped out magic years before in order to gain more power. In the sequel, Zélie discovers that the progress that she made in the first book has complicated ramifications, leading the kingdom toward a brutal civil war. Both novels are bruising accounts of unthinkable violence and persecution, evocative of bigger, real-world conversations about suffering and survival.
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