Tarisai has grown up in Bhekina House, a strange, mysterious building full of rumors and spirits, where she is surrounded by tutors who avoid touching her skin and a vast grassland which she is forbidden from venturing into. For as long as she can remember, her life has been full of secrets--and her mother, known only as The Lady, visits Bhekina House too infrequently to provide any answers. More than anything, Tarisai longs for the Lady's love and connection, but her long absences curtail any such dreams.
When Tarisai is sent away from Bhekina House, though, it is not with her freedom. She must now compete for a spot on the crown prince's council--a group of individuals from across the Aritsar empire bonded by the prince's magical Ray--a position that would offer the connection and family Tarisai has always wanted. But she is ensnared by a cursed command: when she loves the prince and is chosen for his council, she must kill him.
Caught between her birth and past and a new future she may not be able to forge, Tarisai must find the strength to choose her own path--or lose the family she has only just found.
As I found myself struggling to write a review for Raybearer which accurately described this book to its fullest, I eventually came to the conclusion that nothing so brief could truly encapsulate this story. I picked up this book after hearing about it for months, and it exceeded even my highest expectations. Ifueko delivers an exquisitely written, superbly plotted story full of complexity, originality and magic. I was sucked in from the first sentence and was caught up in its magic even before I finished the first page; the combination of engrossing, beautiful writing and a vivid, atmospheric world make it compelling and incredible. Tarisai is a strong, fierce, determined protagonist who refuses to let her fate be controlled by another, whose conflicts and choices are relatable and never felt contrived, who makes this book character-driven even in the midst of a complex plot full of twists and surprises. Raybearer is brimming with unique twists and details which make the world feel expansive and vividly realized. I highly recommend Raybearer to readers ages twelve and up--it's one of my favorite books, period!