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Young Adult Fiction 475
enchanting and stunning YA fantasy duology conclusion
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REDEMPTOR is a stunning conclusion to an atmospheric and imaginative YA fantasy duology. Picking up where the first book left off, Tarisai now must fulfill her pact with the Underworld, creating her council and cementing her rule alongside Dayo, before she must descent as the final Redemptor. The time she has been given causes her to reevaluate her purpose, her life, and her goals.

As time continues and she must convince her those she needs in her council to love her, she is also seeing ojiji, the restless spirits of the redemptors who did not make it out of the Underworld. The clock is ticking, and Tarisai feels the weight of the world on her shoulders. With difficult decisions to be made and her understanding of her own goals evolving, Tarisai will decide who she will be and forge her own paths forward.

What I loved: The world-building continues to evolve in this sequel with more about the Underworld, the creatures in it, and the alagbatos. The politics of the country and the socioeconomic disparity that exists within it becomes more clear and the problems of such are brought to the front as Tarisai evaluates the nobility and their treatment of those who have fewer means and are thus forced into terrible conditions to survive. I found these themes to be particularly poignant, continuing the intriguing discussions of the first book around this and regarding those in power and the things they will do to continue their control. I found an interaction with the volcano alagbato to be particularly interesting in terms of the relationships to the land and impacts of different types of working/goals. Other themes around grief, found family, love, and regret were also really well-developed and thought-provoking.

Tarisai remains a particularly compelling character, but with the support of her council siblings and her own growing self-knowledge, she is really coming into her own. She must fight the forces around her and those that hound her in order to figure out her own mind, strength, and inner purpose, but her journey was particularly powerful, and I appreciated watching her path. Other characters take a backseat in this one, such as Dayo, though he is still there. New characters add to the story and world-building with their own stories and histories. I really loved some of the new characters and appreciated the continuing relationships with Kirah and particularly Sanjeet, who I will always adore.

The pacing here is great with the right amount of world and character building as well as advancement of plot. I expected more time spent with certain elements, but I found it to feel just right as they happened. This sequel felt like the ideal complement to the first book, bringing the duology to a satisfying end and containing a full story in its own right.

Final verdict: Atmospheric, compelling, and thought-provoking, REDEMPTOR is a riveting conclusion to the enchanting YA fantasy duology begun with RAYBEARER. Highly recommend for fans of THE KINDER POISON, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, and ASH PRINCESS.
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