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“Peace comes when stories are celebrated.”

Speculative fiction to read during Black history month
“Raybearer” by Jordan Ifueko
“Raybearer” by Jordan Ifueko follows Tarisai, who’s been raised alone besides her absent mother known as The Lady. Tarasai is sent by her mother to the capital city of the empire of Aritsar in order to compete to be a member of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. However, she’s told by The Lady to gain the prince’s trust and then kill him.
Ifueko soars in her writing, creating the complex character of Tarisai as she grapples with the task imposed by her mother as well as the newfound love she has for both the prince and the rest of the council.
Speaking to George Fox University, Ifueko writes how she never saw herself in the fantasy books she read as a kid, pushing her to add her Nigerian heritage to “Raybearer.”
The world of “Raybearer” is incredibly lush and global, adding influence from India, South Korea, and other non-Eurocentric countries. The best part of “Raybearer” has to be Tarisai, who has the emotional intelligence of an adult but the whimsy of a child, making her a nuanced and complex character readers can’t help but root for.
“The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin
N.K. Jemisin has cemented herself as the rising star of speculative fiction after almost a decade of pumping out complex intricate fantasy novels almost every year. The best book on her resume has to be “The Fifth Season.”
A part of “The Broken Earth trilogy,” which won the Hugo award for best speculative fiction for every single book in the series, is set on a continent that knows destruction well. Said continent is called the Stillness, a name picked from pure irony due to the fact that every couple years the continent undergoes an apocalyptic climate change in which the citizens refer to as “The Fifth Season.”
Following three different women in different points in time, Jemisin drags readers through a journey of apocalypse, earth magic, and violence. This is Jemisin’s magnum opus, creating a fantasy world that transcends the pastoral, Euro-centric fantasy worlds of over one hundred years.
“Legendborn” by Tracy Deon
One of the best things to come out of the dark academia genre is “Legendborn.” The dark academia genre is a newly emerging genre that takes the setting of academia to underline its inherent darkness. “Legendborn” is a young adult novel written by Tracy Deonn, following Bree Mathews. Bree goes to a residential program for highschoolers at UNC-Chapel Hill, hoping to block the grief of her mother’s recent death.
One night, however, she’s one of the only people to see a demon, flying over the campus. Because of this, Bree is swept up into The Order, a secret society steeped in Arthurian lore that seems to be connected to the death of Bree’s mother.
Out of grief and pointed revenge, Bree becomes embroiled into the society in order to find the truth about her mother’s death. Tracy Deonn masterfully connects Arthurian lore with systemic racism in academia, all while connecting the respective magic systems of King Arthur with rootcraft, a magic system influenced by centuries long hoodoo.
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