A West African fantasy with enveloping world-building – Minnesota Public Radio News

In the month of September, Ask a Bookseller is featuring recommendations for kids and teens. This week, bookseller Linda Stack-Nelson of Wild Rumpus Books for Young Readers in Minneapolis recommended the debut young adult novel “Raybearer” by Nigerian-American author Jordan Ifueko. 

“Raybearer” by Jordan Ifueko

Courtesy of the publisher

“To me, it is the perfect debut,” says Stack-Nelson. “You always hear the adage, that you have your entire life to write the first book and then two years to write every book thereafter. You can just tell that Jordan Ifueko has been writing this book her entire life. It has so much depth, and so much detail. There’s so much love for and between the characters. It’s got this depth to it that you expect from somebody at the top of their game, and it’s only her first book.” 

In this West African-inspired fantasy, a girl names Tarisai has been raised basically in isolation, schooled by tutors. Because she’s half-demon, she has the ability to pull memories out of people whenever she touches them. The ability really scares the people around her, but immediately impresses everyone at the palace when she’s taken there at age 11 to compete for a spot on the future emperor’s council. 

Stack-Nelson recommends this young adult fantasy novel for anyone over 12, including adults. Recommended for fans of Tom Adeyemi’s “Children of Blood and Bone,” Melissa Bashardoust’s “Girl, Serpent, Thorn,” or Roseanne A. Brown’s “A Song of Wraiths and Ruin,” and other books whose intense world-building draws you in.