Beast of Prey
Beast of Prey #1
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 28th 2021
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.
As someone who has been in a bit of a reading slump, this book was just what I needed to pull me out of it. I enjoyed this read, honestly.
Now, I not only went into this unaware of the plot, but also was expecting something different. Only issue is, I can’t expand on that because I don’t know what that something is. I’d be lying if I said my heart raced for our characters or that I was 100% immersed in the story. Again, intrigued is the word of the day, but… I may be a bit underwhelmed.
However, I will always take a fantasy with a main character that looks like me, wears her hair like me, in a setting that is intriguing and a journey that has me both wanting to travel with them while simultaneously happy I’m at home because things are scary. Also the inclusion of religion and African lore just… made my heart happy.
As far as pacing goes, it wasn’t too fast or too slow, the world building was nice, yet I do wish the Night Zoo would’ve made a bigger mark or at least the animals in the zoo. That whole scene or location was the most interesting for me and as far as expectations go, it’s a start of where I thought I’d be spending the majority of the story. Instead there’s a romp in the woods, a deception and magic. Which isn’t too bad in my eyes.
The characters… are fine, a bit impulsive which in and of itself gets annoying but overall understandable. Teens are allowed to be reckless, even though if they would’ve just communicated and listened to each other it would’ve been cool instead of acting like one knew more than the other which in turn getting themselves into situations that were EASILY avoidable. But, it made for some banter and character development. We have–
❥ Koffi – an indentured servant who works at the Night Zoo and is prepared to make a dangerous deal to get her loved one out as well. She’s a likable character, one full of impulsivity and instinct, who’s passionate and doesn’t know much of her past but is willing to do what it takes to get what needs to be done, done.
❥ Ekon – A boy raised to be a warrior, who after a mistake is ready to go on a dangerous journey to claim his destiny again, but realizes over time that destiny may not be for him. Stoic, levelheaded, always needs a plan before making a first step. He may also have OCD? Which was interesting to see.
❥ Adiah – She’s a girl with immense power that everyone is afraid of and who we don’t get to see her importance in the story until a good chunk of the book has passed. If I’m honest, out of all of the POV’s hers was the one I wasn’t the most invested in. Mostly because I was just confused on where she fit into all of this.
Honestly,, they were all stereotypical YA protagonist, hence why I don’t dislike them (not at all), but I’m not the most… involved? With them? If that makes sense? Now, if you haven’t noticed, Koffi and Ekon have a bit of an opposites attract thing going on… and absolutely no chemistry. Okay, that’s a lie
kind of, but not enough for this burgeoning romance that’s trying to be. I’m hoping in the sequel that more development will come into play because that tropey dynamic will always have so much potential.
All in all, this was a great palette cleanser. Something easy to read with a cliffhanger that’s interesting and alluring enough for me to want to read a sequel.
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.