Lately there has been a flood of good YA titles featuring African influences. Here are just a few that I’ve highlighted!
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Zélie, Amari and Inan live in Orisha, where years ago magic disappeared after all of the maji were killed by the monarchy. Now Orisha is a dangerous place where angry spirits roam and magic is absolutely forbidden.
Zélie has her mother’s Divîner gifts and must constantly hide who she is. All of this changes when a powerful scroll is found, giving hope to the Divîners that magic might be able to come back to their land.
The author weaves a complex story, set in a very unique landscape. The characters are constantly growing and changing and the world building is unique and well developed. Nothing is as it seems and your opinion of the main characters will probably change by the end. It features women who are strong and hold their own. The best part? They ride giant cats!
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Crown princess Karina never really wanted to rule. She also never expected to be put in that position because her mother did it so well and her older sister was next in line. When that all changes, Karinas grief is huge and she becomes determined to fix it all with black magic. However, using magic requires a dark cost.
Malik just wants to keep his family safe. When he finds a way to get his sisters to safety in a foreign land, he takes the chance. When he discovers the cost is too great he must complete an unthinkable task.
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is an exemplary tale about two young people faced with impossible tasks, hoping for a way out. The plot is dense with assassins, ancient magic, forbidden love and fierce competition. The world building is lush and elaborate with beautifully painted scenes and emotional twists and turns. Nothing in this book is as simple as “good vs evil.” Even the “villains” are treated with compassion, which creates a more complex and deep storyline.
Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron
Arrah is a 16 year old who comes from a long line of powerful witch doctors but she can’t cast even the simplest magic. Her lack of magic leaves her shamed and unloved by her family and community. When children begin disappearing and strange premonitions appear to her family, Arrah decides to sacrifice everything. She gives her blood and years of her life in exchange for magic.
The author creates a complex fantasy world full of twists, lies and half truth. The mythology is rich with magic and a complex pantheon of gods and characters. A whole lot of story is packed into this book and it’s only the first of the series!
It should be noted that Kingdom of Souls is a book for mature teens. In fact in the UK it’s published as an adult title. This book is a very dark fantasy. It is grand, haunting and fascinating but so so dark. The author herself gave the disclaimer that, “the story includes blood magic, an intentional infliction of self-injury in a ritual, challenging familial relationship, death of a child, death in battle scenes, mention of animal sacrifice (not on page), animal possession, mind manipulation, and an act of a sexual nature that occurs when a character tricks another character while disguising their appearance.”