I love to read-always have. But, for a while I stopped because I just didn’t have the time, OR when I had the time, I didn’t have the energy. Then came an exciting phenomenon called the audiobook. Now I digest over 100 books a year. Some I actually read. A small number of those are physical books while the rest are ebooks. The majority are audiobooks.
It isn’t that I prefer audiobooks necessarily-my eyes still clamor to consume printed words- but it is more that I have time for audiobooks because they don’t keep me from other tasks. I listen while I drive, eat, clean, cook, shower, do chores (I have animals), sort, fold and put away laundry, do dishes… You get the point.
I’ve heard many people say they dislike listening to books, and I admit it took some adjustment, but I listen on 1.2 times the actual speed because I can think faster than normal speech. This has helped tremendously. And, just like any skill, you get better with practice. Given the choice of no books or audiobooks…well, that isn’t really a choice, is it?
Off my soapbox and on to the review.
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
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?
Find links to purchase the book and learn more about the author on her website here.
I was immediately captivated with the main character, Tarisai. We see her world from her child’s eyes and sense the compelling bond she has with The Lady. Her intense desire to feel love and warmth through touch, praise, and closeness. These things are denied her by the staff, so though she is constantly surrounded by tutors, and household servants, she is always alone except during the rare visits by The Lady.
We follow Tarisai as she matures and eventually moves to the capital to become a candidate for the Council of the Crown Prince. She doesn’t want to hurt him despite the terrible wish The Lady put upon her. She grows fond of him and of other candidates gaining friends for the first time. Throughout it all, she refuses to allow the Prince to anoint her, fearing she’ll not be able to control herself if he does.
As the story progresses, Tarisai tries many desperate measures to prevent the wish from gaining control over her. Each time The Lady finds a way to exert influence over her. The layers of mysteries playing through the background of the main conflict are numerous. Many are steeped in the folklore and legend of Aritsar, Ifueko’s well-drawn, invented land. Political maneuverings, ancient coverups, and decades of discrimination swirl to paint a masterpiece of storytelling.
I couldn’t stop listening, partly because of the characters and setting, but also because the narrator was a master. Joniece Abbott-Pratt hits all the nuances of a good narrator: unique character voices that fit each one, pacing, inflection, and emotion. Her voice enhances the story without distracting from it or injecting herself into it. It is a performance rather than a reading.
Redemptor, book 2 in this duology is scheduled to release August 17, 2021. It, like Raybearer, has a gorgeous cover!
Rating – 5/5
I give this book 5 out of 5 for both the story and the narration. I will listen again, and that is something I rarely do.
This book is appropriate for teens through adults. The themes are relatable for all ages: finding one’s place, belonging, friendship, loyalty, doing what’s right, dealing with perspective, respect, oppression of both ideas and people, historical cleansing, unity. I could go on. The writing is clear enough for less mature readers while complex enough for those with practice reading between the lines who desire meatier plots.
There is some violence, but none of it is gratuitous or overly gory. Light romance is also present, but again, nothing graphic.
I recommend this novel for those who enjoy strong, but flawed, heroines, found families, overthrowing tradition for the sake of freedom, adventure, and african folk themes. There is a touch of fantasy-fairies, lodestone travel, the world, etc. Enough to provide interest, but not so much it bogs down the plot.
Thanks for reading. I am ever grateful for your support! Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts.