Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko is probably one of the most unique fantasies to come out in 2020, and despite its Covid-induced delay it is almost ready to be let loose upon the world! I loved that it in no way conformed to the traditions of Western fantasy and is thoroughly grounded in African storytelling and culture. Jordan is a fantastic writer, and I cannot wait to see where her career takes her – a few months ago, she did a promo thing on Twitter where she asked readers to send in pictures and described them in the Raybearer style, and this is how she described me, I absolutely love it!
Many thanks to HotKey Books for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
RELEASE DATE: 18/08/20
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: 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? (from HotKey Books)
OPINIONS: There is so much to say about Raybearer, and at the same time, I’m just blubbering and yelling at you to buy this damn book. It is unique, has positive portrayals of asexuality, subverts the chosen one trope, and features some beautiful writing. My favourite element about this book was probably the world building – looking for a non-problematic new fandom to stan now that you no longer want to associate yourself with a certain wizarding school? No problem, Jordan Ifueko just gave us twelve realms to identify with. There is magic, there is friendship, there is family and there is love of all sorts. Really, there is everything needed in a great YA novel.
The characters are deliciously complex, and Tarisai’s true loyalties are murky until the very end of the book, adding tension to the story. The Lady, the book’s antagonist, is just as faceted and layered, rather than just being some sort of faceless evil. Nevertheless, kindness overshadows ambition and competition, which is a lovely change from so many YA novels. Despite everything that happens in the story, the bonds of friendship and loyalty do hold the group together and shape the plot.
If reading this has made you want to read Raybearer – I know writing has made me want to reread -, you’re in luck, it is finally out next week! Add it to your Goodreads here, and pre-order from your retailer of choice. Click here for Forbidden Planet, or I know Fairyloot will be doing an awesome special edition with the UK cover on a hardback soon!