Behold what is coming…
For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.
Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire. With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust, Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her.
Thank you to Hot Key Books for the reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
If you haven’t read Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, stop whatever you are doing and get to it right away because it is incredible! Especially since, as this is the sequel to it, I won’t be able to fully avoid spoilers for the first book, though this will be spoiler free for Redemptor. It is an excellent sequel to Raybearer, and just like the first book I could hardly put it down. Using myth and storytelling within the narrative, Ifueko makes the world of Aritsar feel real, with a real history and geography.
‘My name was Tarisai Kunleo, and no one I loved would ever die again.’
In book one Tarisai was struggling to fit in, and being torn between loyalty to her distant mother The Lady, who raised her to be a tool, and her new family of Anointed Ones. In this conclusion to the series, Tarisai is now learning to fit into her new role as Empress Redemptor after discovering that there are two Raybearers in every generation. On top of that, she needs to create her own Council and bond with twelve rulers of the kingdom and become a full Raybearer before descending into the Underworld to end the child sacrifice to the demons known as the abiku. To truly bond with these strangers, Tarisai will need to reveal parts of herself she would rather keep hidden, and in doing that she comes face to face with her own shortcomings and the shortcomings of her Empire, especially towards its people.
Jordan Ifueko has created a beautiful blend of exciting storytelling and reflections on a society in which the rich continue to gain wealth from the suffering of the poor. It feels incredibly current and timeless at the same time, and in the midst of struggle and despair there is hope. Tarisai learning that she can ask for help and rely on others is a reminder all readers – especially teenagers – could do with. And, just like in Raybearer, all the side characters are incredibly interesting; in Redemptor we have all of Tarisai’s Anointed siblings from the first book, and we get introduced to the twelve rulers that will join this found family. I was worried at first that it would be too many new characters with not enough reason for me to care, but Ifueko got the balance perfect and I was quickly excited to see all the new names on the page.
‘A sun for the morning, a sun for the evening,
And moons for years to come.’
This duology has a bit of everything, really, and I can’t recommend it enough! It has a strong young woman as its lead; it has a brilliant found family element; it delves into discussions of right and wrong and human rights; it has magic, fairies, great elemental spirits, a rogue vigilante called The Crocodile; it has steamy romance, deep friendships, and complex relationships between parents and children. Honestly, it constantly amazes me how much Jordan Ifueko managed to pack into just two books, and whenever I think of the world of Raybearer it seems much more vast in my mind, which is a testament to the world building involved. If you haven’t read it yet, get ye to a bookshop!