This West African-inspired epic appeared on virtually every best-of list when it debuted in 2018, and for good reason: beyond its impressive scope, the book kicks off a series that uses fantasy as a means to dissect systemic racism and oppression. Readers are introduced to the kingdom of Orïsha, where years ago, the magic-wielding maji people were wiped out in an effort by the cruel king to gain more power. But teenager Zélie Adebola is on a mission to bring the magic back, and her reason is personal: her maji mother fell victim to the merciless monarch’s killing spree. Tomi Adeyemi wanted the sweeping saga, which was on the bestseller list for 122 weeks, to be an allegory for the contemporary Black experience—and it proves particularly powerful in pursuing that mission. —Annabel Gutterman
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