Series: Raybearer #2
Published by Amulet Books (8.27.21)
Genres: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook, 336 pages
Length: 13 hours, 22 minutes
Narrator: Joniece Abbott-Pratt
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. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.
It’s been a while since I was so grossly disappointed in a sequel. This book has severe second book syndrome. I loved Raybearer, but everything I loved about about it was missing from this book. In my review of Raybearer I praised the richly enchanting world – that it was vivid and and captivating, and that the culture saturated the story – and we got none that in this book. The core relationships of the first book are also missing. There was a little bit of the Dayo/Tarisai dynamic (not much), but Kirah was almost completely absent in this one. The friendship between Tarisai and Kirah was one of my favorite parts about the first book. There wasn’t much of Sanjeet & Tarisai either, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance anyway. Many new characters were introduced too quickly, and I never got a chance to connect with them. The relationships all seemed rushed and underdeveloped.
I was so excited for Tarisai to go to the Underworld in place of the children, but it barely makes an appearance. It doesn’t happen until the very end, with all of the action crammed into the last 1/4 of the book in a very rushed and anticlimactic ending. The plot was severely lacking. The entire first half of the book is Tarisai fighting with the visions of the children and them saying ‘do more’ over and over and OVER again until my eyes were rolling and I wanted to rage quit the book. If I’d have made a drinking game out of it – take a drink every time they said “do more” – I would have quit caring by halfway through the book anyway, because I’d have been too trashed.
Overall I just wanted so much more from this book. It was so bland (in stark contrast) compared to the rich and beautiful world and characters of Raybearer that it feels like a different author wrote it.
Writing style: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 2/5