Tomi Adeyemi publishes the finale of her bestselling series. Source: @tomiadeyemi on Instagram.

Tomi Adeyemi Concludes Bestselling Orïsha Trilogy

Nigerian-American author has been on a fast track to fame with her Orïsha trilogy. She reflects on the Journey and impact of her beloved fantasy series.

3 mins read

Mia Boykin

Tomi Adeyemi, the Nigerian-American author who captivated readers with her debut novel “Children of Blood and Bone,” has completed her Legacy of Orïsha trilogy with the release of “Children of Anguish and Anarchy.”

Born in 1993 to Nigerian immigrant parents in the United States, Adeyemi’s journey to literary stardom began early. She wrote her first story at five and continued throughout her teenage years. After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in English Literature, Adeyemi studied West African mythology in Salvador, Brazil – an experience that would later inspire her breakthrough novel.

The Legacy of Orïsha series, which began as a dream when Adeyemi was 18, has become a cultural phenomenon. “Children of Blood and Bone” spent over 120 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into more than 32 languages. The book received the 2019 William C. Morris Debut YA Award, the 2019 Waterstones Book Prize, and the 2019 Hugo Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.

Reflecting on the trilogy’s conclusion, Adeyemi told Publishers Weekly, “I look at these three books, and I feel like I’m looking at my childhood.” The author’s journey mirrors that of her protagonist, Zélie. In the final book, Zélie faces her greatest challenge yet, pushing her to new limits to save her people from destruction.

The impact of Adeyemi’s work extends beyond literary success. She aimed to create a fantasy world where young Black readers could see themselves as the heroes. “I want her to know that she’s beautiful and she matters and she can have a crazy, magical adventure even if an ignorant part of the world tells her she can never be Hermione Granger,” Adeyemi has said.

The process of writing “Children of Anguish and Anarchy” was particularly meaningful for Adeyemi. “I feel like Zélie’s journey in this book is closely related to the personal one I went on,” she said. The author faced health issues that slowed her writing process, creating a parallel with her character’s struggles. “It was scary because words are my superpower. I was like, ‘Why can’t I do this right now?'”

Despite these challenges, Adeyemi was determined to give the series the epic ending it deserved. Her editors, Ann Marie Wong and Mark Podesta were equally committed to seeing the series through. Wong stated, “I felt an incredible responsibility to honor this story, these characters, and their legion of loyal fans.”

As one chapter closes, new adventures begin. Paramount Pictures has acquired the film rights to “Children of Blood and Bone,” with acclaimed director Gina Prince-Bythewood set to helm the adaptation. Adeyemi will serve as executive producer and scriptwriter, ensuring her vision translates to the screen.

“I feel very lucky, because we’re saying goodbye [to the books] here, and then we’re saying hello, here [with the film],” Adeyemi said. “We don’t necessarily have time to grieve, because we’re about to be on a new adventure.”

The Legacy of Orïsha universe continues to expand in other ways as well. Award-winning actor Cynthia Erivo is narrating the audiobook for “Children of Anguish and Anarchy,” releasing simultaneously with the book. Adeyemi expressed excitement about this collaboration, stating, “It’s just amazing to bring another Nigerian artist into this, let alone that artist being Cynthia Erivo.”

Adeyemi’s rise in publishing has been huge for the industry. Her debut novel was part of one of the biggest YA debut novel publishing deals ever, with both publishing and film rights reportedly selling for seven figures. She has been selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 List and as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People.

Black stories, especially ones targeted towards children, can have huge success both monetarily and socially. Adeyemi comes from a long line of Black fantasy writers, who have inspired generations of Black readers to think outside of the box and imagine a new world for themselves. 

While Adeyemi hasn’t revealed details about her next writing project, her fans eagerly anticipate what worlds she’ll create next. Her journey from the daughter of Nigerian immigrants to a literary powerhouse continues to inspire aspiring writers and readers alike. Adeyemi’s parents, who initially had reservations about her career choice, have supported her throughout her journey.

As Adeyemi moves forward, she carries the essence of her characters with her. “I can’t miss her,” Adeyemi said of Zélie. “I am her.” This connection between author and character underscores the personal nature of Adeyemi’s writing and hints at the depth of storytelling we can expect from her future works.

With her proven record of successful, and immersive stories, readers and critics sit with anticipation to see what Adeyemi will conjure up next. Her success is a personal triumph but also represents a step towards centering black voices in the fantasy genre and the publishing industry as a whole. 

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