Rating: 4.5 / 5
I received RAYBEARER by Jordan Ifueko in my YA Once Upon a Book Club box. This was a new to me book before opening the box, but the book is gorgeous and after checking out a few fantastic reviews I was excited to pick it up!
RAYBEARER follows Tarisai, a young woman who has been raised by an absent mother called The Lady. Tarisai longs for her mother’s affection, but her hopes are largely in vain. The Lady sends Tarisai off to compete with other children for an honored position as one of the prince’s council of eleven. If she wins a place on the council, she will be permanently bonded to the prince and the other council members by the Ray.
With the prince and the others competing to become part of the council, Tarisai finds the possibility of family and love. Problem is, her mother sent her off with a magical compulsion to kill the prince once she is fully bonded to him and Tarisai has little defense against the compulsion.
This book really was fantastic and I was hooked into it from the very beginning. While there is a decent sized cast of characters to get to know, focusing in on Tarisai keeps this manageable. She is learning to navigate her own origin story and meeting new people along with the reader. Tarisai is a fantastic character as well, bound by both her mother’s emotional abuse and magical compulsion, but smart enough to always be looking for a way out.
The worldbuilding is really well done and I was easily able to settle into the world that Ifueko has built. There is beautiful imagery intermixed with good action which really helped this book to fly by. I really enjoyed the magical system developed in this novel as well, with different characters demonstrating different Hallows (magical abilities).
I read this part in print and part via audio and I would absolutely recommend both to fans of young adult fantasy!
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