Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Summary:

Magic doesn’t exist in the broken city of Lkossa anymore, especially for girls like sixteen-year-old Koffi. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, she cares for its fearsome and magical creatures to pay off her family’s debts and secure their eventual freedom. But the night her loved ones’ own safety is threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi unleashes a power she doesn’t fully understand–and the consequences are dire.

As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six–an elite warrior–and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, a fire upends his plans. In its midst, Ekon not only encounters the Shetani–a vicious monster that has plagued the city and his nightmares for nearly a century–but a curious girl who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior.

Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani down and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani and selling it for a profit could be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon–each keeping their true motives secret from the other–form a tentative alliance and enter into the unknowns of the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.

In this much-anticipated series opener, fate binds two Black teenagers together as they strike a dangerous alliance to hunt down the ancient creature menacing their home–and discover much more than they bargained for. 

Ayana Gray is the author of BEASTS OF PREY (Putnam Books for Young Readers, Fall 2021) and a lover of all things monsters and magic. Originally from Atlanta, she now lives in sunny Florida where she writes fantastical stories, follows Formula 1 racing, and worries over her adopted baby rhino, Apollo.

Review:

Beasts of Prey was an absolutely stunning fantasy debut… in fact it is one of the best debuts I have read in years. The writing is atmospheric sucking me straight into this story from the very beginning. I love reading about different cultures and magic and hers is breathtaking. Pan-African lore is something I know nothing about, but now I am researching it all! The world-building is phenomenal creating such depth in this story. The pages seem to come alive around me… which was almost a shame when it came to a few jungle chapters… I’m looking at you chapter 17… ::shudder:: The mythical creatures were downright terrifying, and I will probably have nightmares about them for the rest of my life. Along with terrifying creatures, the villain of the story was pretty awful himself.

I fell in love with these characters. Koffi has gone through the trenches and is only trying to make the lives of her family better after being left with her father’s debt. Ekon is just trying to prove himself worthy to his peers and brother. Thrown together by fate to stop an evil that nobody quite understands, they embark on a perilous journey filled with twists and turns that completely change the way they think. How do they separate everything they thought they knew with what they discover on their journey?

I seriously am so in love with this story. It was such a new and refreshing fantasy story that swept me away. I love/hate that I was able to read this so early because waiting for the sequel seems like a torturous journey of my own. Pre-order now because you do not want to wait on this.

Purchase Links:

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593405680

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beasts-of-prey-ayana-gray/1138537105;jsessionid=D5F7EF5F143FBC3C44D48DE721E5DDB4.prodny_store01-atgap18?ean=9780593405680

https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/beasts-of-prey/9780593405680-item.html?ref=isbn-search

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