ARC Review: Raybearer (Raybearer #1) by Jordan Ifueko

(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

Hands-down my favorite read of 2020 so far, Jordan Ifueko’s YA debut fantasy Raybearer is a must-read for people who love rich world-building and found families.

Jordan Ifueko's YA debut fantasy Raybearer is a must-read for people who love rich world-building and found families. Click To Tweet

About Raybearer

Publisher: Amulet Books  |  Release Date: August 18, 2020  |  Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy  |  Format: eARC & ALC  |  Source: Publisher via Netgalley/LibroFM

Raybearer coverNothing 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?

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My Review of Raybearer

Finished copy and preorder swag for Raybearer
Finished copy and preorder swag for Raybearer

✨ You can read an excerpt over at EW!

tl;dr: THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD, I devoured it! Just do yourself a favor and buy it. Oh, and just grab the audiobook, too. You’ll thank me later.

Raybearer is my favorite read of 2020 and has left me without words for over a month. This is a book that will suck you in, keep you riveted until the end, and have you begging for more. Beautifully written and intricately plotted, Raybearer is a must-read for people who love rich world-building and found families.

“We walked to a clearing hedged in Acacia trees. Herons flapped above a vast still pool. The air hung with lilies and violets, and the brush rustled and shhhed in a wordless lullaby.”

Ifueko’s beautiful writing captivated me from the first page, transporting me to a magical world and activating all of my senses. Not only could I visualize the scenes and clothing, but I could feel the breeze tickle my skin and the scent of flowers on my nostrils as if I were there.

Ifueko effortlessly weaves a fast pace with beautiful imagery, providing amazing world-building and an intricate magic system. I enjoyed the process of discovering the history of Aritsar, the mythology of the gods, and how the realms were united as every aspect of the world has been intricately thought out and shared throughout. In a West African-inspired universe, this novel makes a point to highlight the diversity of cultures from the different realms.

“Tarisai. It is a Swana name: behold what is coming.”

I don’t have the words for how much I adore our main character, Tarisai. Raised alone in an invisible house, all she wants is to belong and earn her mother’s – The Lady’s – love. She’s spent her life watching the world pass her by, craving adventure beyond the mango trees of home.

“I can choose. I can write my own story.”

A pawn in the plots of others and kept sheltered in the dark, Tarisai struggles with what The Lady asks her to do and what her heart wants. Free will versus destiny is a strong theme as Tarisai fights to be able to decide her own fate; she doesn’t want her choices dictated for her.

I love that the romance went in a way that I didn’t expect and my heart is so soft for Tarisai, Sanjeet, and Dayo. I need to protect all of them from all harm, even though they are fully capable of taking care of themselves. The whole concept of the Ray and Council is so fascinating, and the found family vibes are strong!

Raybearer receives the highest of praise from me and everyone should drop everything to read this amazing YA fantasy debut! Everything about the world and characters are thought out in some of the best examples of worldbuilding I’ve read. Ifueko is most certainly an author to watch and Raybearer deserves its honor as being an instant NYT Bestseller.

Audiobook notes: Joniece Abbott-Pratt brought the story to life with her captivating narration. I was fortunate to also receive an audiobook review copy and read along with my eARC, which I highly recommend. I’ve since listened to the book a second time!

Content warnings: attempted murder, domestic abuse, enslavement, gaslighting, parental abandonment, rape, regicide, suicide

eARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley for my honest review and does not affect my opinion nor the contents of my review; advanced audiobook provided by LibroFM. Quotations are from an unfinished proof and are subject to change upon final publication.

Have you read Raybearer yet or is it on your TBR?

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!


  1. Destiny @ Howling Libraries

    September 25, 2020 at 8:43 AM

    Oooh, this sounds excellent! Great review, love. ♥ Thanks for pointing out how good the audio is! I’m in a major audio slump right now but will definitely see about grabbing the audiobook once that passes!

    1. Kal

      September 26, 2020 at 2:04 PM

      Honestly the book is so good, I can’t stop thinking about it haha! I am so glad I read along with the audiobook, the narrator does such a good job bringing the world to life. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Sophie

    September 25, 2020 at 10:10 AM

    I am listening to the audiobook sample and…it’s good! Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Kal

      September 26, 2020 at 2:05 PM

      You’re welcome, Sophie! I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do!

  3. Haley

    September 28, 2020 at 8:04 AM

    OMG YES!! I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH! I can’t believe we can screech about it together! Definitely one of my top 2020 reads and best releases of 2020! And holy cow that pin is gorgeous <3 Looks like I'll have to check the audio

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 12:07 PM

      AHHHHH I am so glad (but also not surprised!) that you loved this one too! IT IS SO GOOD, like DAMN. The audio is incredible, 15/10 would recommend and am so glad I got the ALC for it so I could experience it.

  4. Meaghan

    September 30, 2020 at 10:06 PM

    I haven’t seen a single bad review for this book, and it just keeps CLIMBING and CLIMBING up my TBR! I’m not sure how soon my library can get a copy (or if there’s already a waitlist), but you’re definitely helping to convince me to push for it! Great review as ever, Kal. ♥

    1. Kal

      October 6, 2020 at 12:19 PM

      This book honestly deserves all of the praise – it is so good! I hope you’re able to get your hands on this one soon! I’m glad I was able to read this early soI didn’t get Crazy Expectations, because that always ends up being my downfall lol.

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