Publication Date: August 18, 2020
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
This YA Fantasy does a great job of infusing a lot of West African culture into a well thought out fantasy world. Our protagonist, Tarisai, spends her childhood in seclusion at the behest of her mother, The Lady, so she can train to become one of the future King’s, Dayo, council members. Only one child from each region is chosen and to become a member of the council you need to connect with Dayo through his Ray. The Ray is one of the most unique parts of this story since it binds all the council members and the Prince together physically and mentally. Unfortunately for Tarisai, it turns out that her mother has had her in training her whole life because she wants Taraisai to kill the Prince once she accepts his Ray. The main theme of this book is the choices that we make and how, if we can, do we carve out our own path.
This book really surprised me in a variety of ways. I went into this expecting the basic YA plot but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of this story and the unexpected choices Ifueko made. There is so much action packed into this book which kept the pacing of the story at such a high level that the story was constantly engaging. I was expecting their to be a romance but I really enjoyed the direction that took as well. Not only was it between characters I wasn’t expecting it also had some sweet moments that had me swooning. Which is a little odd to say about a teenage romance but there is one scene is particular that I think will stick with me for awhile.
While I absolutely loved all of the characters I did wish for them to be more fully realized. It makes sense that we only get to really know Tarisai the most but I feel like there were opportunities where Ifueko could have fleshed out more of the side characters. Which again maybe asking too much of a young adult novel but as a character driven reader I just wanted to get to know them better. There is still so much we don’t know about Dayo and Ifueko barely touched on most of the other council members. Also, because the pace of the book was so quick, time would skip forward weeks or months in the span of a sentence. I prefer my fantasy books to be more drawn out and more detailed but my personal preference didn’t take too much of my enjoyment away from this story.
If you love fantasy then I think this would be one that you really enjoy and I highly recommend picking up. Even if you are like me and prefer adult fantasy there is still so much to get out of this incredible world and amazing writing. I’m anxiously awaiting for August to roll around so I can read the sequel because the way Raybearer ended left me eagerly anticipating where Tarisai’s story is going to go next. I also think that if you aren’t typically a fantasy reader then this is still a great one to pick up because of the pacing. This story is engaging, exciting, awe inducing with beautiful and descriptive writing. Plus the world that Raybearer is set in is so fascinating and captivating that I think many people will find themselves falling in love with Jordan Ifueko and her brilliant mind.