Review: Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko

The hotly anticipated epic and phenomenal West-African inspired finale to the New York Times bestselling YA fantasy Raybearer. 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. In this finale to the RAYBEARER duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.

Raybearer is one of the best YA duologies I’ve ever read. Redemptor is just as packed with content as the first instalment: there’s assassins, usurpers, rebels, demons and so much more. We’re thrust into action from the opening chapter, which thankfully, also acted as a summarised recap of Raybearer, and it kept this pace to the very end.

In Redemptor, Tarisai is dealing with the guilt of many character deaths and the pressure of saving the Empire from the Underworld. She is literally haunted by the hundreds of Redemptor children that have been sacrificed before her, known as ojiji spirits. Even though these bully spirits caused Tar and myself great pain, I love what I interpreted them to stand for: that horrible voice in your head that makes you hate yourself and see the worst in everything. 

On top of this, Tarisai also has to contend with getting the people of Aritsar to accept her, which is easier said than done, when she’s making waves and making major changes to how the Empire operates. Consequently, we become more familiar with Dayo and Tarisai’s council siblings, as well as the rulers of each realm in the Aritsar Empire. I really liked learning more about Songland as well, with Min Ja and Dao Seo (her consort) being my favourite newcomers. 

It was emotional seeing Dayo going through the motions of grief, and interesting to see the rest of the council process the changes that happened in Raybearer, especially Sanjeet. The chemistry between Tarisai and Sanjeet was off the charts. I was a little disappointed by the lack of romance throughout the book, but when they were together, it was fire! I love how Ifueko fuelled their connection with irresistible heat, sweet moments and a very strong friendship. They own my heart.

Now here comes the hard part. Redemptor had the challenge of reaching the exceptional quality it’s predecessor possessed. Admittedly, with the heaviest of hearts, I don’t feel it did. It was going to be hard to outdo it or even match it, which in some respects it did, but on the whole it didn’t. As a whole, the Raybearer series is incredible and Redemptor offers an entertaining conclusion, but its middle was underwhelming by how overzealous it read. I think the book maybe took on too much and spread itself thin as a result. Many of its highlights lost momentum in their execution, for example; the repetitive nature of the bully spirits and Tarisai taking far too long to rediscover her old self and her backbone, diminished the power of their initial impact.

But even with that little snag, I remain in absolute awe for the world and characters Ifukeo has created. I still think about this book series everyday since finishing it and would love to see more stories told in this world. Both Raybearer and Redemptor have such heart through excellent characterisation, with themes of love and making one’s own story, written in an engaging style that consistently felt like the story was always moving, all through the lens of a phenomenally crafted world. I just love it and cannot cheerlead about it enough. The ending was, in my opinion, a complete reflection of how hopeful and wonderful the entire story arc was – a very fitting end. Jordan Ifukeo will now be an auto-buy author for me and I pray I don’t have too long of a wait… maybe a story set in Songland?? A fan can hope!!

Thank you kindly to the publishers for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for this honest review.

Buy It Now

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