Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!
Today’s pick is the first in an incredible young adult fantasy duology and yes the second book, Redemptor, is also available.
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
I do love a book with a map in the front and a glossary in the back. To me, it’s a sign of some extensive world-building and the world-building in this book is phenomenal. Raybearer takes place in the land of Aritsar, which is made up of multiple unified realms.
The book starts with our hero, Tarisai, when she is a child. She lives in the realm of Swana in a large house with many tutors and caretakers. Her mother (aka “The Lady”) visits very rarely, even only once a year, and Tarisai is desperate for her approval and touch. Tarisai has the power to take someone’s memories if she touches them, so all her tutors and caretakers avoid touching her skin to skin. They teach her all the languages of all the realms, reading and writing, but unbeknownst to her, the history she is taught is heavily censored. In fact, she has never left Bhekina House, where she lives, and she’s also not allowed to interact with any other children.
When she is seven, Tarisai sneaks out of Bhekina House and gets caught by an alagbato, who is the guardian fairy of Swana. He shows Tarisai a troubling memory of his own, where the Lady tricks him and enslaves him and he must give her three wishes to be freed and one of the wishes must be fulfilled by Tarisai.
When Tarisai is eleven, The Lady makes her wish. She shows Tarisai a portrait of a boy Tarisai’s age and commands that she kill him, but only when she loves him and he anoints her as his own. Tarisai has no idea who this boy is and she’s just so happy to be with her mother she doesn’t pay much mind to this weird, troubling request.
Two of The Lady’s friends take Tarisai to the capital and unbeknownst to her, she is entered into a competition to become part of the Emperor’s son’s council. The council siblings have a magical connection to the Emperor or, in this case, the son and each sibling then makes it so that the Emperor is immune from being murdered and can only die from old age or if one of his council members turns on him.
When Tarisai meets the Emperor’s son she is shocked because he is the boy in the portrait that The Lady commanded her to murder.
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!
That’s it for now, book-lovers!
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