Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Children of Virtue and Vengeance

by

Tomi Adeyemi

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Children of Virtue and Vengeance Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Virtue and Vengeance. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Tomi Adeyemi

Adeyemi’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria before she was born. Though her father was a doctor in Nigeria, both her parents worked low-wage jobs when Adeyemi was a child. Adeyemi’s parents didn’t introduce her to much Nigerian culture when she was a child, but she later embraced her culture: after several prestigious scholarships and educational opportunities in high school and college, she studied West African mythology and culture on a fellowship opportunity in Brazil. Adeyemi has been writing stories since she was a child, but her parents weren’t thrilled to hear that she was quitting a job at a Los Angeles-based film production company to write a novel. Though her first novel wasn’t well-received (and was never published), she wrote her second, Children of Blood and Bone, to submit to Pitch Wars, which pairs emerging writers with editors and other help before they submit their books to a publisher. The novel debuted at number 1 on the New York Times young adult list. It won several awards and the publishing deal and accompanying film deal were some of biggest ever for a debut young adult novel. Adeyemi lives in San Diego, California.
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Historical Context of Children of Virtue and Vengeance

In Children of Blood and Bone, Adeyemi made it very clear that she was inspired to write this series of novels to raise awareness about the issues of police violence, brutality, and discrimination that black people in America suffer. In particular, she was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and Children of Virtue and Vengeance continues this project. Just as in its predecessor, maji children die in acts of senseless violence at the hands of a government that, in theory, should protect them, which Adeyemi equates to the way in which black people—children as well as adults—are killed during what should be non-violent interactions with (often white) police officers at alarming rates. It’s also possible to see the rise of the tîtáns’ magic as a parallel to cultural appropriation, or the practice of a dominant culture (in this case, the nobles) taking customs, practices, designs, or ideas of a non-dominant culture (the maji), often in a way that profits the dominant culture only.

Other Books Related to Children of Virtue and Vengeance

In interviews, Adeyemi has stated that part of the reason she wanted to write a black female character like Zélie is so that young black readers have the opportunity to see themselves in a fantasy series. Though Adeyemi loves fantasy and adventure and cites the Harry Potter series as a major influence on her work and desire to be a writer at all, she notes that most fantasy novels—including the Chronicles of Narnia series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hunger Games series, and even Harry Potter—focus on white characters almost exclusively. (Though it’s also worth noting that in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the 2016 play picking up 10 years after the series’ end, a black actress was cast to play Hermione in the London stage production.) This is part of a broader trend in young adult literature in particular to promote writing by diverse or minority authors (whether because of their race, sexuality, or disability status) presenting stories about increasingly diverse characters. Books that fall into this category include Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and Angie Thomas’s novels like The Hate U Give and On the Come Up. Adeyemi’s other stated goal with the Orïsha series is to shed light on police violence and racism experienced by black Americans, ideas that Angie Thomas’s novels also tackle. Children of Virtue and Vengeance also shares thematic similarities with Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, which also sees a minority (Indigenous Canadians) attempting to save themselves, their language, and their history from eradication by the government.
Key Facts about Children of Virtue and Vengeance
  • Full Title: Children of Virtue and Vengeance
  • When Written: 2018-2019
  • Where Written: California
  • When Published: 2019
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
  • Setting: The fictional land of Orïsha
  • Climax: Inan decides to dissolve the monarchy.
  • Antagonist: The monarchy, especially Queen Nehanda
  • Point of View: First Person, narrated alternately by Zélie, Amari, and Inan

Extra Credit for Children of Virtue and Vengeance

Future Writers. In addition to writing her own books, Adeyemi is a writing coach and runs a website full of free resources for aspiring writers.

Fantasy is Fun. In interviews, Adeyemi has said that while she appreciates books that take place in the real, nonmagical world, she loves writing fantasy because she can make anything happen. Though she recognizes the power fantasy has to offer metaphors for things going on in the real world (as with the parallels to police brutality in the Orïsha series), sometimes it’s just pure fun: she created lionaires in part because she thinks lions are cool.