Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Raybearer Book Poster Image
African teen thwarts deadly wish in inventive fantasy.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Based on African folklore, Raybearer offers chance to discuss mythology from around the world.

Positive Messages

It's hard to tell whether fate or free will rules our lives. Love and friendship deserve loyalty. People should share their problems with their friends and family.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tarisai is an engaging main character -- smart, resourceful, brave. Her mother -- The Lady -- seems to withhold her love, leaving Tarisai feeling very disconnected and vulnerable. In terms of representation, characters are mostly dark-skinned and curly-haired.


Violence is used sparingly. Someone close to Tarisai is stabbed, and the act has severe repercussions. Other characters are poisoned or shot with arrows.


Characters talk about sex but without graphic detail. Two adults are seen from a distance making love. Tarisai shares a passionate embrace with a boy.



Swearing is infrequent: a handful of "damn" and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens drink palm wine and become mildly drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Raybearer is an Africa-influenced fantasy by Nigerian American author Jordan Ifueko. The first half of a duology, it focuses on Tarisai, daughter of an absent mother, raised to fulfill a magical wish by killing the Crown Prince. The novel contains scenes of violence, including a stabbing, a poisoning, and an attack with arrows. There's some talk of sex among the teen characters, but without many details. Swearing is mild ("hell," "damn") and very infrequent.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 13 years old Written byv_eela April 11, 2021

What's the story?

As RAYBEARER opens, young Tarisai is programmed by her mysterious mother to kill the Crown Prince of Aritsar. Wishing more than anything else to be part of a family, Tarisai tries to find ways around her mother's terrible prophecy, but she ends up a trusted member of the Council of Eleven. Sworn to protect the Emperor, she dreads the day she will be destined to kill him. Is there a way to use her magic to protect them both?

Is it any good?

Fantasies influenced by African culture are popular now, and this magic-drenched adventure is likely to attract a devoted readership. Written by debut author Jordan Ifueko, Raybearer benefits from meticulous world-building to tell a tale of young love and betrayal. The first half of the book has more urgency than the latter, but Ifueko ratchets up the suspense before the end. Tarisai is a vivid and forceful main character, and the supporting cast includes colorful and powerful allies and adversaries. Raybearer ends in a cliff-hanger, and many readers will be impatient for the publication of the next volume.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Raybearer depicts its Africa-influenced setting. How is folklore from Africa different from or similar to that of Greece or England?

  • Is Tarisai doomed to kill Dayo? Or does she have free will to find her own fate?

  • How do you forgive someone who's done something terrible? What can someone do to earn forgiveness?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and books with characters of color

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate