I had been looking forward to reading Raybearer since I watched a podcast with Jordan Ifueko (and a few other debut authors), and heard her joy when discussing her book and the characters within. I immediately pre-ordered. I love pre-orders — they’re like presents to myself as I’ve usually forgotten what I’ve ordered. I was ridiculously excited when Raybearer arrived.
Let’s start with the blurb:
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 11. 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?
In keeping with my short-arse reviews — I fucking loved this story! Each page, each character, the scenes… there was always something new to discover, some secret exposed as Tarisai traverses her journey of self-discovery and fights against the fate ‘bestowed’ upon her.
Raybearer is an own-voices story, and it shines through in the prose and the nuanced storytelling, in the diversity of characters and their unique voices. It’s filled with magic, and I was transported into lands I want to read more of, into cultures that both shouted and whispered their place in Ifueko’s universe. The world-building is lushly descriptive but the plot always maintains the forward momentum I so love.
This book is the first in a West-African inspired YA duology, and I cannot wait for the second book to land. As I was nearing the end of the book, I hit that moment when I couldn’t wait to see how this story would end but having to slow my reading because I could have so happily kept reading in this world.
If you don’t have this on your TBR, you need to go sort that out right now. Go on. <flaps hand> Order it now!
Oh, and there are two covers for this wonderful book, and both are gorgeous. I’ve gone with the cover I don’t have, because it sings to me of Tarisai.