Book Review

Raybearer

Raybearer

  • Author: Jordan Ifueko
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: August 18, 2020
  • Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
  • Series: Raybearer #1

CONTENT WARNING: violence, murder, emotional abuse by a parent, misogyny

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as the Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of Eleven. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But the Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn–but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.

I listened to the audiobook version of this, and I’m so glad that I did! The narrator, Joniece Abbott-Pratt, was such a great choice to read this, and listening to it allowed me to hear the beautiful songs and chants incorporated into the story. If you get the chance to read this as an audiobook, I strongly suggest it.

I honestly fell in love with this book. The beautiful, lyrical writing made it easy to lose myself in the world of Aritsar. I was stunned at how incredible the world building was — there are so many different regions, and each one has its own magic, culture, customs, and traditions. Since Tarisai grew up in such an isolated environment, it felt as though I was experiencing all the wonders of Aritsar with her as she was exposed to them. 

Another thing that made this book feel so real was the quality of the relationships that Tarisai developed throughout the story. As someone who grew up in with so few people around her, dreaming of family and friends, there was such a strong theme of found family. I liked Dayo’s character, but nothing really came close to Kirah and Sanjeet, in my opinion. No matter what happened, they had her back and built her up. I would have liked to get to know more of the other 11, though. I felt like we didn’t really get to know them at all, but honestly, that was my only criticism of the entire book.

The story is set in an African-inspired world, and while I’ve read a few in the last year or so, this one definitely set itself apart. It incorporates cultural elements and the setting seamlessly, weaving elements of mythology and magic to create something fascinating and completely new, representing the 12 tribes of Aritsar. The world that this book is set in has become a place that I want to visit and travel around in. I’m always in awe of the imagination it takes to develop not just a book, but a world that draws readers in this strongly. 

That ending left me wanting more right away. It’s a bit of a cliffhanger, but still gave me a sense of closure. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book, because I seriously need to find out what happens next in this world!

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 11

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