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PW #353: Young Adult West-African Fantasy (Own Voices): CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

Friday, 4 November 2016  |  Posted by Heather Cashman

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Ashley Hearn
Mentee: Tomi Adeyemi
Category/Genre: Young Adult West-African Fantasy (Own Voices)
Word Count: 105,000


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.



When I think of her I think of rice.

When Mama was around, the hut always smelled of jollof rice.

I think about the way her face glowed like the summer sun, the way her smile made Dad come alive.

I hear the myths she would read to me at night. Zain’s spurts of laughter when they played abgön in the mountain park. Dad’s cries as they put the rope around her neck. Her screams as they dragged her into the dark.

The incantations that spewed from her mouth like lava—the magic of death that left her astray.

I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree.

I think about the king who took her away.


Pick me.

It’s all I can do not to scream. I dig my nails into the marula oak of my staff and squeeze to keep from fidgeting. Beads of sweat drip down my back, but I can’t tell if it’s from the morning heat or my heart slamming against my chest. Week after week I’ve been passed over.

Today can’t be the same.

I tuck a lock of snow-white hair behind my ear and do my best to sit still. As always, Mama Agba makes this selection grueling, staring at each girl just long enough to make us squirm.













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