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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 201

Although Tomi Adeyemi’s break out novel is concerned with magical powers, it is based in concepts concerning family, heritage, and maturity. The author crafts a distinct cultural setting, Orïsha, based on true African history, but alters the course of history and accentuates the role of magic.

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Zélie, the protagonist, is close to her father and brother, but she is unlike them in specific ways. Like her mother, deceased when the reader meets Zélie, she is of the maji people. However, because the majis’ powers have disappeared, Zélie trains in martial arts and then comes into her calling of Reaper. Although she must seek her own path on a warrior’s quest, her loyalty to her family must be paramount. The larger service to her people cannot only stem from revenge or other negative emotions and must also be based in her deep-seated personal belonging.

Along the way, Zélie’s romantic relationship with Inan develops. While he began as an opponent, they grow to understand each other. Learning to put the relationships in perspective and not only to focus on her own skills and desires shows her coming of age through the course of the novel.

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