Children of virtue and vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
Legacy of Orisha, bk 2. MacMillan, 2019. ISBN: 9781529034790.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Zelie has just set fire to her father's funeral pyre, and now she and her brother Tzain, and her friend Amari, daughter of Orisha's dead monarch, have to work out how to save their country from war, and establish peace between the maji, traditional holders of magic, from whom Zelie and Tzain descend, and the increasingly powerful rulers of the land who want to destroy anything to do with the maji. It looks like there is a chance for peace as the princess Amari asserts her right to the throne, but then everything turns to disaster when it is discovered that her brother Inan and her fierce and power hungry mother Nehanda still live.
The story is set in the fantasy land of Orisha, based on the towns and settings of Nigeria; and the inhabitants speak Yoruba. Exclamations and incantations are frequently in Yoruba and not translated, so the reader has to just guess or skip those sentences. There is no glossary to help here.
The themes centre on overcoming oppression and the hatred between different groups of people. One nice feature is the friendship between the two girls Zelie and Amari, each with separate allegiances, but who for the most part try to work together. However they are gradually drawn apart by the warring factions. Each of them struggles to know who to trust, and how to resolve the conflict in their country.
Children of virtue and vengeance is book 2 in the Orisha trilogy, and while I read this as a stand-alone, it took a while to work out the relationships, and the references to strange creatures such as the lionaire which may have been given better description in the first book. So I would recommend reading Children of blood and bone first. The chapters are short and fast-paced, alternating between three narrators, Zelie, Amari, and Inan, and quickly draw the reader into the action, so that it is easy to stay engaged until the end. However, the cliff-hanger ending clearly leads into the third yet to be released novel.
Readers of fantasy who enjoy mystical worlds with action, romance and some gore, will enjoy this series. Themes include identity, courage, magic, racism.