This is a really great addition to the YA-fantasy landscape. And even more so when considering the author's age. Very impressive. I really enjoyed this book, but I also didn't think it was perfect.
I really loved that this was based on something a little bit different. I honestly can't say I know anything about West African legends and myths, but this book brought some of those aspects to life. The world-building in general was really well done, I found all of the different places in the story very graphic and easy to imagine, without having overdone descriptions. They also ride around on big cats. That's cool. I want one.
I had mixed feelings about the characters in this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed getting to know the histories of the characters. This certainly helped create 3 dimensional characters - especially the main villain. While I certainly didn't like him, and couldn't condone what he was doing, it did help create some understanding as to why he is the way he is. On the other hand, one of the main characters in particular was really really inconsistent in their motivation and, given the short time period of the book, this made them a bit frustrating. There was also a bit of quite unrealistic insta-love going on. I'm all for insta-romance - it does happen in real life - but this was just silly.
The magic system in CBB is really cool, with 10 types of magic, there is no lack of places this could go. While it wasn't extremely well explored in this book, they're trying to get magic BACK after all, I'm really looking forward to how this could develop in the second book.
Overall, a great book, but not without its flaws. I'll definitely be picking up the next book and would highly recommend this to anyone interested in YA fantasy - particularly to support diverse fantasy.