Raybearer is the start of a debut series by a strong & enchanting voice; Jordan Ifueko has created magic within these pages & has produced a book that I found completely impossible to put down. Publishers need to be supporting more authors of colour like Jordan, because books like this absolutely raise the bar in YA fantasy.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.
⚠️ Violence, emotional/psychological child abuse, physical abuse, manipulation & exploitation, sexual references, memories of domestic violence, fire, deaths of parents, child sacrifices, child abandonment & murder ⚠️
Raybearer opened with a really strong start that is bound to intrigue anyone; I knew immediately that this was going to be a good book & I was incredibly excited about the world-building. The African-inspired universe that Jordan Ifueko has created within 404 pages was spectacular, & I was constantly desperate to learn more about it. Jordan made the learning about this world so easy as we weren’t taught about the world, instead each detail has been harmoniously entwined within the storytelling, including big parts of the world like history & religion – there are no chunky, descriptive bits in this story & that produces a really refreshing experience.
Protagonist Tarisai spends a lot of the book fighting against herself & her own will; I felt a lot of emotion for Tarisai very early on as, to me at least, her up-bringing seemed to be ladened with emotional/psychological abuse from all the adults around her & all I wanted to do was hug her. Thankfully though, Tarisai is eventually surrounded by a group of incredibly loyal friends who end up becoming her family; I found every one of her large group fascinating & I would love a prequel/novella made up of the stories of the rest of the characters. A book full of their lives before the events at the Children’s Palace, as well as their trials & tests, & their relationships with one another, would undoubtedly be completely irresistible to anyone who reads Raybearer.
The plot of Raybearer is probably the most incredible thing about it (which is a tough thing to say as someone who lives for world-building); Raybearer is genuinely & entirely unlike any other book I’ve ever read, meaning I had no foresight into what was coming next. Moreover, despite how remarkable the story is, I still didn’t expect it to surprise me as much as it did & there were genuine jaw-dropping moments. Oh, & the magic system!!! How could I forget? I am obsessed with the loadstones (you’ll have to read it to find out what they are) & I really liked that the magic, & those who possessed it, had limits & that it wasn’t a simple case of those with magic being on top.
It’s becoming a common sight on my Twitter feed that people are saying they’re bored of reading the same stories over & over, just with different characters & place names, but stories created by authors like Jordan could never be compared to any other mainstream YA story because the foundations are built using the stories & history of Black communities, & there simply isn’t enough of those stories being published for them to be considered boring. Raybearer is undeniably a YA book, but it has only one of the typical YA tropes & Jordan Ifueko’s voice is so strong & powerful that it blocks out any possible comparison. The plot was addictive & unpredictable, the world-building was in its own league & every character was solid & complete. I literally cannot fault this book at all, & I cannot wait for book two!!
Preorder yourself a copy using the links below – or consider asking your library to order it in so that even more people can have access to this incredible story.
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Book Depository | Hive | Waterstones
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