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Thursday, September 17, 2020

A Riveting Character-Driven West African YA Fantasy: Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

RAYBEARER

by Jordan Ifueko
Series: Raybearer #1
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: August 18th 2020
Source: Library
Star Quotient: ★★★★
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷
Amazon - The Book Depository - IndieBound

I'm really loving the West African inspired YA fantasy that we've been getting this year. Raybearer is one of the most fascinating and unique books I've been lucky enough to read. I have to thank my Twitter friend, Rogier, for getting me hyped for the book and his recommendation didn't lead me astray. I was in love with every moment of this book.

Raybearer had many strengths to it, but perhaps its most memorable element was the immersive world that Jordan Ifueko has crafted. A lot of times world-building in fantasy settings can go right over my head, but with this book, I felt like the author took her time to introduce and construct her world and magic system, making it a seamless experience for even a novice fantasy reader like myself. Jordan Ifueko's storytelling was interspersed with rich West African mythologies, cultures, and traditions. Her writing has a descriptive quality that never veered into too many details, which I appreciated. I felt like I was a part of Raybearer as the writing was that riveting for me. The political system in itself was ingenious and I was particularly fascinated by the Crown Prince's Council of 11. Readers who are looking for more unique stories with a fantasy setting are definitely going to savor and treasure this stunning story.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Raybearer was more of a character-driven tale than an action-packed one. It allows readers to truly familiarize themselves with the incredible cast. The heroine, Tarisai, has a compelling voice that manages to capture your attention for the entirety of the book. Brought into the world by her mother, a figure known as the Lady, specifically to get close to the Crown Prince in order to murder him, Tarisai had an interesting upbringing. You would have expected her to be perhaps violent, but she was the complete opposite of that. She was actually quite innocent and incredibly affectionate to the people around her including Dayo, the Crown Prince she was tasked to kill, which undeniably posed numerous challenges for her. I had very soft feelings towards Tarisai as we watch her basically grow up from a very young age to a teenager. The secondary cast in Raybearer was equally lovable and distinct in their own ways. They all played pivotal roles and what was fascinating to me was their bonds with each other. There is a found-family aspect to this story which readers will definitely love. These relationships were also in contrast to Tarisai's relationship with the Lady, which was convoluted in many ways but incredibly riveting.

Raybearer is easily one of my favorite books of the year. It may only be her debut but Jordan Ifueko is an author to watch for. Based on what I read in this book, she is going places and I can't wait to see what she has in store for readers in the sequel.

CW: emotional abuse, deaths, violence

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Hi, friends!

This review is part of a new feature where I read books recommended to me by Twitter friends. The recommendation for Raybearer came from one of my oldest Twitter friends, Rogier.

Thanks to Rogier for this recommendation! 

Let's chat!
Have you read Raybearer? What are some of your favorite YA fantasy titles?
Let me know in the comments below!