Tarisai wants nothing more than a normal childhood, wherein she is allowed to do normal childish things. However, she spends her early years sequestered away from, well, everything. She occasionally gets visits from her mother, The Lady, but mostly she is raised by the servants. It seems like everything will change when her mother sends her to the empire’s capital city to compete with other children for the chance to serve on the crown prince’s council, but her mother only allows Tarisai to go because of her own nefarious plans. Namely, that once Tarisai is accepted as a trusted council member, she will assassinate the crown prince. Complications ensue.
Melinda recommended this book to me earlier this year, and I am so glad she did. It’s a really unique, interesting reading. Thanks so much for the great recommendation, Melinda!
Raybearer is YA fantasy, with a twist. Rather than relying on the culture of medieval Europe as the basis for its worldbuilding, the novel instead draws inspiration from West African culture. The resulting setting is vividly realized and intriguing. I did find the initial couple of chapters a bit hard to follow because of the amount of worldbuilding that occurred there, but as the story begins to move forward, the intersection of setting and plot became much more seamless.
The book certainly has its fair share of fantastical and magical elements–joining the crown prince’s council, for example, involves being able to connect telepathically with him, as well as having one’s own unique special powers–but what I found most interesting was the political intrigue. Jordan Ifueko crafts a compelling and suspenseful palace setting in which Tarisai never quite knows who to trust and her cloistered upbringing seemingly leaves her at a great disadvantage.
The book also benefits from some remarkably complex characters. Tarisai and the other children she encounters once she reaches the palace are interesting in their own right, but the adults on the periphery of the story are especially complicated. Tarisai’s mysterious mother ended up being one of my favorites.
Definitely give Raybearer a read–it’s a fascinating, lyrical read, though be forewarned that it’s not a standalone. The sequel, Redemptor, is slated for release this August. If you start Raybearer now, your timing will be perfect. 🙂
*Also available as an ebook on Libby.
Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Amanda Joy, Nnedi Okorafor, and Renee Ahdieh.
Have you read Raybearer? What are you reading? What was your favorite YA fantasy series? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.