Beasts of Prey
– Ayana Gray –
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Published 28 September 2021
A lush fantasy, Beasts of Prey is a beautiful as that cover (prettyyyy….). Beasts of Prey is set in an African-inspired fantasy world (and I loved that the author shared the significance of the mythology, culture and languages used in the world in her author’s note).
Koffi is an indentured servant. She and her mother are just months away from paying off their family debt and finally free themselves from the Night Zoo, where they work as beast keepers. But just when freedom is almost within their grasp, a dangerous power Koffi doesn’t truly understand, let alone know how to control, changes everything. Now she must journey into the Greater Jungle to face the most dangerous beast in the land. Ekon is just one task away from finally becoming a Son of the Six, an elite warrior. But when Ekon allows Koffi to escape from the Night Zoo and is shamed and forbidden from completing his entry into the warrior class, Ekon and Koffi unwillingly team up to hunt down the Shetani – the most feared beast in the land.
I don’t know why I keep choosing books that have animals that might come to harm because it genuinely stresses me out. However, Beasts of Prey does a great job of keeping the suspense but also not featuring harm to animals – terrifying beasts or otherwise. And genuinely, there are some really scary creatures in this book. Think the spiders from Lord of the Rings but with a human torso and human feet!
It took me some time to piece together the parts of the story and understand how they worked together. We have chapters that follow Ekon and Koffi, as well as chapters from another character and it’s hard to understand how her story and journey fit with the other two. The book chapters seem to jump around timewise giving you an insight from one character and then jumping backwards to the other character to recover a few minutes of time. It creates a bit of dramatic suspense as we readers know what’s going to happen in advance. And slowly, the third character’s role in the story becomes clear.
This is just the first book in a series. It’s also refreshing that we are finally getting more fantasy books that are not set in European or Western worlds. The use of African culture, mythology, and languages is really well done and builds a beautiful (and scary world). Readers who enjoy fantasy with lush world building will enjoy Beasts of Prey.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Magic, animals, beasts, soldiers, warriors, brothers, debt, jungle, African mythology.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Violence, death, injury to humans and animals, fires, murder.
Representation: black main characters, black side characters.
Published: 28 September 2021 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 496 pages.