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The epic debut YA fantasy from an incredible new talent--perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir

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? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we're willing to go for the ones we love.

Author Notes

Jordan Ifueko is a Nigerian American writer who grew up eating fried plantains while reading comic books under a blanket fort. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their collection of Black Panther Funko Pops. Raybearer is her debut novel.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up--Tarisai has grown up with every luxury imaginable--except for a loving family. Her mother, known as The Lady, has kept Tarisai isolated save for a group of revolving tutors and servants afraid to get too close as she prepares her daughter for a mysterious future. At the age of 11, Tarisai finally learns The Lady's plan when she is sent to compete for a spot on the Crown Prince's Council of 11. Joining the Council will give Tarisai the family she has always craved, but it will also bring her one step closer to completing her mother's magical request: killing the Crown Prince after Tarisai has earned his trust. As Tarisai learns more about the empire, the Crown Prince, and herself, she will have to decide where her loyalties lie and if she is strong enough to choose her own path in the face of her mother's magical compulsion. Ifueko's debut fantasy blends Nigerian folklore with a melange of other influences to create a multicultural world where colonization and imperialism inform the story as much as Tarisai's own choices. Tarisai's first-person narration offers a limited perspective, increasing suspense as she tries to guess The Lady's motives. Large-scale but vague world-building and a plot with far-reaching elements beyond Tarisai's immediate concerns make this story needlessly convoluted at times. VERDICT A dense but promising stand-alone fantasy.--Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Ifueko's stunning fantasy debut, a woman known as "the Lady" commands a djinn to build her an invisible stronghold and impregnate her with a child who must someday grant her third wish. She raises the resulting daughter, dark-skinned Tarisai, in ignorance of her origins, isolating and training her for an undisclosed reason. When the Lady dispatches 11-year-old Tarisai to Oluwan City to compete for inclusion on Crown Prince Ekundayo's governing Council of Eleven, the affection-starved girl is delighted; if chosen, she will bond eternally with Dayo, as the prince is known, and her Council siblings via a mystical Ray. The union will also render Dayo immune to all forms of premature death except murder by a Council member--which is precisely what the Lady envisions. Tarisai, however, resolves to write her own destiny and protect Dayo, no matter the cost. By crafting a world plagued by imperialism, poverty, and institutionalized misogyny, and a mythology that literalizes the power of love, purpose, and sacrifice, Ifueko illustrates the need for social change and inspires readers to fight for it. Fierce, kindhearted characters from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds enhance the well-paced, exquisitely crafted plot, which thrills and inspires while fostering readers' hope for a sequel. Ages 12--up. Agent: Kim-Mei Kirtland, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Apr.)

Kirkus Review

Sixteen-year-old Tarisai of Swana is commanded to kill the one person in the world she's sworn to love and protect.Born of a mysterious woman known only as The Lady and her unholy coupling with an ehru (djinn), coily haired, dark-skinned Tarisai is hidden away in the grasslands of her home realm and constantly tested by tutors, preparing her whole life to join the Council of Eleven that will advise the Crown Prince. When she discovers that she was created as a weapon to assassinate that same beloved prince, Tarisai embarks on a journey through the 12 realms of Aritsar to discover the truth about her complicated history, hoping for a chance to shine a light on a new path for herself. Debut author Ifueko's ethnically and religiously diverse empire is well-built, taking form as it unfurls and blossoms in a way that never feels rushed. This fantasy worldwhere tutsu sprites roam and people are graced with a never-ending spectrum of Hallows, or birth giftsprovides constant wonder and enchantment and has a tantalizing potential that engages readers. The perfectly paced plot is laid against a backdrop of political unrest and intrigue that explores colonialist and imperialist themes, ensuring its continued relevance. The nuanced experiences of the fantasy communities will resonate with global, contemporary marginalized peoples and their struggles against discrimination.A fresh, phenomenal fantasy that begs readers to revel in its brilliant world. (Fantasy. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Ifueko's mesmerizing debut stuns as it weaves a tale of loyalty, fate, destiny, family, and revenge. Moreover, it places a dark skinned heroine front and center, who is beautiful and powerful, deadly and compassionate, and vulnerable and tough, giving YA literature more of the diverse representation teens need. Sixteen-year-old Tarisai was born to serve the wrath of The Lady (her mother), a purpose ensured by a magical wish and having a powerful ehru (djinn) for a father. When Tarisai comes of age, The Lady sends her to Aritsar to win a position on the Crown Prince's Council of 11, earn the prince's trust, and slay him. Bound by her mother's wish, she must obey the command, though she desperately wants to choose her own path. To earn liberation, Tarisai embarks on a journey through the realms of Aritsar to unearth the details of its treacherous, sordid history. Ifueko's prose is effortless and poetic from the very first sentence. She whisks readers into a lush story that instantly gives one chills with its sweeping fantasy setting, arresting landscapes, extraordinary magic, and wondrous beings. Hand this to fans of Tomi Adeyemi or Sabaa Tahir and to seekers of adventurous fantasy.