For Tomi Adeyemi, endings are just a new beginning. Children of Anguish and Anarchy, out today, concludes the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy that began with her YA debut Children of Blood and Bone and catapulted Adeyemi’s momentous career.

The stakes have never been higher for the books’ star, Zélie. She may have won the battle against the monarchy to restore magic to the magi, but the victory is short-lived. Zélie soon finds herself kidnapped and at the mercy of King Baldyr, ruler of the Skulls, who wants to use Zélie and her power to take over the land. Now trapped at sea with a ruthless foe, Zélie’s final battle will push her to new limits to save her people from destruction.

Closing out this chapter of her career is particularly special for Adeyemi. “This dream popped into my heart when I was 18,” Adeyemi told PW. “​​I look at these three books, and I feel like I’m looking at my childhood.”

Children of Blood and Bone was released in 2018 and took the publishing industry by storm. 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, and was a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. It stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 120 weeks, and has been translated into more than 32 languages. Adeyemi was selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 List and as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People. Adeyemi knows that her trajectory is the result of hard work, but just how far she’s come is still a surprise to her.

Adeyemi entered the publishing industry well prepared, with material at the ready. Children of Blood and Bone was “just the first cannon I fired.” She’d had four more books at the ready had the manuscript not been picked up. She’d thought about what kind of deals she wanted and how she wanted her book marketed. She’d been specific about her ambitions and achieved them. And yet, when she reads the latest profile listing her accomplishments, she said, “I read the headline, and I’m like, what are they talking about?”

The process to writing Children of Anguish and Anarchy felt “resonant” for the writer, who has always found her characters to be mirroring aspects of her own journey. She says her books are “more like albums. They just meet you where I am.”

In this story, Zélie is struggling after “everything has been taken from her,” a feeling Adeyemi could relate to when she began struggling with health issues that slowed down her writing process.

“I feel like Zélie’s journey in this book is closely related to the personal one I went on,” Adeyemi said. “It was scary because words are my superpower. I was like, ‘Why can’t I do this right now?’ ”

And still, Adeyemi was determined to give the series the epic ending it deserved. And Adeyemi’s editors Ann Marie Wong and Mark Podesta were equally eager to assist Adeyemi in seeing the series to its end.

“I felt an incredible responsibility to honor this story, these characters, and their legion of loyal fans,” Wong said. “I saw my role as helping Tomi execute her vision and shape this final chapter into something that is at once breathtaking and horrifying, but with the rousing spirit of resilience, determination, and redemption worthy of its final bow.”

The Legacy of Orïsha universe continues to expand with award-winning actor Cynthia Erivo narrating the Children of Anguish and Anarchy audiobook, releasing simultaneously with the book.

“She’s just been a light and a support,” Adeyemi said of her relationship with Erivo. The two met at the 2022 Met Gala, and Adeyemi had been a fan from afar (“She makes my heart sparkle from the inside out”). Last fall, Erivo mentioned that she’d be interested in narrating the audiobook. Adeyemi’s response? “Say less.”

“It’s just amazing to bring another Nigerian artist into this, let alone that artist being Cynthia Erivo,” Adeyemi said. “She’s an artist, and her artistry is her voice and her soul. I was like, I want to hear her soul, however that comes across.”

Adeyemi hasn’t quite had to say goodbye to her beloved cast of characters. In 2022, news broke that Paramount Pictures had landed film rights to Children of Blood and Bone, after a planned adaptation by Fox2000 and then Lucasfilm stalled. Gina Prince-Bythewood, director of works such as The Woman King and Love & Basketball, has signed on as director with Adeyemi serving as executive producer, and the movie is currently in development.

“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.”

This might be the end of an era, but Adeyemi knows that with all of the many parts of herself that she’s placed into these stories, Zélie will always be with her. “I can't miss her,” Adeyemi said. “I am her.”