- Gabby Womack
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy
Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?
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. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. 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?
emotional abuse, abuse of power, emotional manipulation, rape, and genocide.
The Lady really did a number on Tarisai and me! I was not expecting the amount of emotional manipulation that was packed into this book. I don't want to spoil it for y'all so I'm just going to say that I appreciate the character development as much as the world building. Almost every character is morally gray which seems pretty realistic despite it being a fantasy. Ifueko's storytelling was wonderfully paced! Unlike many other YA Fantasy books, we follow Tarisai from childhood through her teen years, which I appreciate because it made me more invested in the story.
I appreciate the inclusion of concepts like power, privilege, exploitation, censorship, patriarchy, and the meaning of "the greater good."The ending surprised me! I'm curious to see where the second book takes us.
While I highly recommend this book, I also think it's important for readers to give themselves time to register the amount of gaslighting and emotional manipulation throughout the story.