January 19, 2022

Raybearer (Raybearer #1) by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer (Raybearer #1) by Jordan Ifueko
Rating: 5 Stars
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Format: eBook (Borrowed from Library) + Audiobook (Personal Libary; Bought)
Publisher: Amulet Books

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Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko is an epic debut and a beautiful story about friendship, family, and the fight to stay true to one’s self. A young adult novel, this book is a great choice for those who are fans of tropes like the chosen one, love triangles, found family, and platonic life partners. 

Readers are introduced to Tarisai, our main character when she’s a child, and follow her as she grows up. We later learn that all of the training and lessons she was subjected to during childhood were designed to prepare her for the moment that the prince would choose his council of eleven. The promise of a family that will never leave her excites Tarisai, but the magical wish that the “Lady” (Tarisai’s mother) has enacted to force her to kill the prince leaves a dark cloud over the situation. Torn between her genuine care for the prince and the magic that compels her to obey her mother’s command, Tarisai is forced to fight fate and choose her own path. 

I enjoyed how Tarisai’s journey as a heroine was not defined by romance (though there is a slow-burn romance in the works in this book for those who are interested). Fierce heroines are always a plus for me, and Tarisai embodies all of that description and more. While Tarisai is fierce, she is also strengthened by the care and love from her council siblings. It’s so rare to see such strong platonic love between characters in young adult fantasy novels these days, and I was all here for it. I’m crossing my fingers in the hope that readers will get to learn more about the other council members (besides Sanjeet, Dayo, and Kirah) in the sequel. 

The worldbuilding is off the charts in this book, and definitely one of my favorite (if not my favorite) parts of the book. It’s immersive, and readers can happily lose themselves in it while reading. While this is definitely a fantasy world, it’s diverse and has a realistic feel that gives you the impression it could be something that could exist in our world with minimal differences. The idea of “Hollows”, or magical abilities, and how they play into the selection of the Emperor’s council of Eleven was unique and interesting. I also really enjoyed how the cultural aspect played into the worldbuilding, and how many characters are driven by their desire to belong.  

Overall, Raybearer is one of my favorite fantasy reads so far this year. Readers who pick this book up can expect a budding (almost slow-burn romance), amazing characters, and off-the-charts world-building. If you have the opportunity, I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook as the narrator Joniece Abbott-Pratt did an amazing job. I’m excited to read Redemptor and learn how the final chapter of Tarisai’s story ends. 

Trigger Warnings: Attempted Murder, Child Abuse (Neglect), Graphic Violence, Death of Loved One, Death of Children

About the Author

Jordan Ifueko is the NYT Bestselling Author of the RAYBEARER series. She’s a Nebula Award, Ignyte Award, Audie Award, and Hugo Lodestar finalist, and she's been featured in People Magazine, NPR Best Books, NPR Pop Culture Hour, & ALA Top Ten. She writes about magic Black girls who aren’t magic all the time, because honestly, they deserve a vacation. Ifueko lives in Los Angeles with her husband David & their 3-legged trustafarian dog Reginald Ovahcomah.

Photo Credit: TeniKomo Photography

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