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?
Raybearer came as a ray of surprise amidst a streak of disappointing reads last month and completely bowled me over. I wasn’t aware of this book’s existence till I saw it’s ALC on offer and picked it up on a whim. I am happy to say it paid off, big time!
Tarisai has been brought up in isolation by the mysterious Lady and is being trained to get chosen as one of the 11 council members for the Crown Prince of Aritsar. As soon as she is accepted she is bound by a wish to obey the Lady’s command and murder the prince. Will Tarisai be forced to obey the Lady’s command or will she be able to assert her own will? Read to find out 😉
I have to commend the narrator, Joniece Abbott-Pratt becuase her narration was what got me hooked to the story from the very first chapter. Tarisai came alive from the very first line and burrowed herself in a corner of my heart from the very beginning. After getting introduced to Ekundayo and Sanjeet, there was no turning back, I was completely invested!!!
I loved how the author, brings Aritsar and the multiple realms, their history and culture to life using songs. It was unique and I would highly recommend listening to the audiobook just for these songs!!! I kept humming them to myself for days after finishing the book. The world building is so lush and vibrant that I was completely transported. The magic system was also unique. How the Ray connects the members of the council and the scope of the relationship dynamics it provides has me very excited for the future instalments in this series.
“You write your story, not the people who came before you.”
Ifueko seamlessly weaves in heavy themes like gender roles, cultural identity, generational trauma, colonisation and race inequality into the narration and that’s just another factor that makes this book the standout YA fantasy of 2020
“Outcasts only have ourselves.”
But the biggest highlight and what I loved most about this book are the characters, their friendships and the found family trope! They kept surprising me because just as I think it’s going to get tropey with an instalove or love triangle or moving towards a predictable plot, it turns around and astounds me with a fresh new take. Tarisai, Sanjeet, Kirah and Dayo have my whole heart!!! They are all soo precious and I just wanted to wrap them all up in a big hug and protect them with my life!! The Lady was another intriguing character who’s story I wouldn’t mind getting to read as a seperate book.
Overall, this is one magical utterly captivating debut (I still can’t believe this is Jordan Ifueko’s debut 😱) you must not miss this year!! It’s hands down, the best YA fantasy of 2020 and my review is woefully inadequate to capture the perfection that is this book. But please don’t let that deter you from picking this one up!!!!! Highly highly recommended!!
TW : murder, parental emotional abuse, implied rape
Is there any book that took you by surprise this year? Lemme know in the comments