In light of recent events, I have been in a serious reading slump. I have been struggling to focus enough to read and none of the books I’d tried to read were holding my attention….until Raybearer. This book was breath of fresh air, well written, and a welcome distraction in this time of unprecedented difficulty.
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.
When Tarisai comes of age, The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aristar 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? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose written by an incredible new talent, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.ARC back cover
Where do I even start with the amazingness that was this book?! I guess I’ll go with my usual Good, Bad, and Ugly…so here we go!
Jordan is a Nigerian-American author and her love of her heritage and its customs bleeds through these pages loud and clear! From the names she gives the characters and locations, to the styles of clothing to the belief systems that shape the religious and mythos of the world of Aristar. making a whole court case about the naming of a child and the potential ostracizing that the baby could face was an excellent way to again pay homage to the author’s African roots, and maybe even slip in a bit of social commentary about how some names are perceived as “professional” or “appropriate” and others aren’t.
Kirah. My sweet, perfect sunflower, Kirah…she’s my favorite of the council siblings. From the jump as a child meeting Tarisai, she was kind to her and (eventually) taught Tar what it means to have friends and a family. I think I connected with Kirah so strongly because her Hallow is manifested through song and as one who can hold a tune fairly decently myself, I am a firm believer that music has the power to heal.
Sanjeet. The Prince’s Bear. Older than the rest and yet younger in so many ways. The way Tarisai cares for him and unchains him both physically, mentally, and emotionally just shows how much time and effort Ifewko put into developing all her characters as more than just words on a page. At times, I wanted to join the council sib pile-up because of the closeness and trust they all share one for another. Sanjeet’s character goes through a major life crisis or two, and the way he responds makes all the difference as to who he’ll become, and what kind of man he’s seen as.
The Bad/The Ugly
The Lady. What is her major malfunction?! I love to hate a good villain, and The Lady definitely served that purpose. From the cold, callous, unloving way she raised Tarisai, to her overall manipulative nature…a wonderful villain, but man was I not sad to see her go. Also, her entire revenge plan hinges on Tarisai killing an innocent child? BIG yikes.
The older set of council members (those that serve the Emperor) are not without fault either. When they first met Tarisai, some of them wanted to harm or kill her, an innocent child! What is it with killing kids…?
Overall, I gave this story a solid unquestioned 5 stars. Even though I mentioned two of the “bad” parts of this story, they really weren’t bad at all. A well-written villain is just as important, if not more so than a well-written hero/anti-villain. If this is the work Ms. Ifewko delivers for a debut, all I can do is buckle up and strap in for future releases because I know they’ll be undoubtedly amazing. I have so many questions that I hope are answered in the sequel to Raybearer (because there’s gonna be a sequel, right? I’m pleading here…)
I was graciously sent an ARC from the publisher, Amulet, an imprint of Abrams Publishing as a part of a blog tour to promote Ms. Ifewko’s book. This no way impacted my reading or review of this book. Raybearer is set to release on August 18, 2020 from Amulet Publishing. Please visit https://abramsbooks.com/product/raybearer_9781419739828/ for more information about where to buy the book and future projects Ms. Ifewko is working on.
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