Penguin Teen hyped up this book so much! I was so excited for it, I snagged it when they offered it to me and couldn’t wait to start reading. But I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sucked into it like I thought I would be. This was more of a slow intro, a book to take your time with, and then, when everything is set up, then the fun begins.
Thank you to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC for review. This is a spoiler free, honest review and all thoughts and feelings are my own.
Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
When I started reading this book, I was at about 3 stars because while the writing was good, there wasn’t much going on with the plot. It took a bit of time for things to pick up and the ball to start rolling. But once our heroes head into the Greater Jungle, that’s when the fun really starts.
One thing I liked about this book was the alternating POVs. We get Ekon’s, Koffi’s, and a third POV – Adiah’s. Adiah’s is set in an indiscriminate time, but we know it takes place before Ekon and Koffi’s because there’s magic in Lkossa and it’s practiced and trained openly. I will say, it was confusing for me at first to know what was going on because there was no indication of a switch at times, but once I got the hang of the different POVs and when they were switching, it mades things a bit easier.
Another thing I really liked is all the lore behind the story. The creatures in the Greater Jungle, how the magic works, the gods and how they created the world – all of it was so interesting to me and easy to get a grasp of. I wasn’t lost or felt like it was over explained, which is nice.
But, one thing I wasn’t a fan of, was the beginning. Until 50% of the book, I was liking it, but I wasn’t into it. It was slower and harder for me to get through because not much was going on. The characters were going about their daily lives and while we got some backstory, it wasn’t much to keep me interested – if that makes sense? Like I knew that the fun was going to start soon, but I was just waiting for that inciting action to kick us off and get the plot really moving.
But once the plot started, it got really good. I’m definitely invested in the story and want to know what happens to Ekon and Koffi after the ending! Which was such a cliffhanger I’m almost mad about it. I hate being left on such unknowns with no answers in sight, it makes me want book 2 that much more lol
Overall, I liked this story a lot. Ekon’s anxiety and possible OCD (not confirmed) made me anxious reading it, but it made sense with his personality. And Koffi’s rashness was a great compliment to Ekon’s preparedness. The characters worked well together and flowed really well in the story. I honestly can’t wait for the next book!
If you’re looking for similar stories, check out these books!
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron