March 30, 2022

Beasts of Prey (Beasts of Prey #1) by Ayana Gray

Beasts of Prey (Beasts of Prey #1) by Ayana Gray
Rating: 4 Stars
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Format: Audiobook (library)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers


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Has there ever been a book where you’ve kicked yourself for not reading it sooner? Well, Ayana Grey’s Beasts of Prey is that for me. The magic system and the worldbuilding were the highlights of the story, and the book absolutely lives up to all the hype surrounding it. 

Koffi is working with her mother in the Night Zoo as a beast keeper - both are considered indentured servants and must work off their debt to the owner. Ekon is in the final stages of his training to join the legendary warriors’ Sons of the Six and is eager to continue his family’s legacy. However, things end up going very wrong for both Koffi and Ekon, and they find themselves as unlikely allies on a mission to fix things. Our main characters have warring goals though which sets up lots of drama- Koffi needs to bring the creature to the Night Zoo alive to secure her family’s freedom while Ekon needs to kill the creature to redeem his honor and join his brother as an honored warrior. 

It was intriguing that while we are following Koffi and Ekon’s points of view on the same events, there is a third point of view that is never referenced in the story’s blurb. Readers will also follow Adiah’s point of view, which is set chronologically prior to that of Koffi and Ekon. It can get a bit confusing at times, so if you are not a fan of non-linear timelines then this may be a reason not to buy the book. I got excited once the connection between her storyline and that of Koffi and Ekon was made - total plot twist! As a side note, I had minimal issues following everything that was happening so the non-linear timeline was not an issue for me.

I loved Ms. Grey’s vivid descriptions. It was easy for me to be pulled into Koffi’s world - I had no issues picturing the beasts of the Night Zoo, the foreboding nature of the Greater Jungle, or the main characters themselves. This book pulls from Pan-African myth, and I was so excited by this aspect as a mythology fanatic. I love being introduced to diverse cultures that don’t typically get as much attention or love (i.e. think mythology and cultures other than Greek or Roman). 

There is a romance aspect to the story, but it’s not the main focus of the book. The action and adventure would be what I consider the primary plot, with romance being the secondary or subplot. The audiobook performance features multiple narrators, and I think they did a great job. It was very well produced. All three narrators had very distinct and powerful voices, and it was never an issue for me to determine who was talking, even without looking at the chapter titles. 

I think many readers will easily connect to this book. I would happily recommend it to young adult fantasy fans who are looking for a more diverse fantasy read. If you love books with multiple points of view, lots of magic and mayhem, plot twists, and a secondary slow burn romance then this is the book for you. I’m counting down the days until I can read the sequel, Beasts of Ruin (which comes out later this year)!

Trigger Warnings (Provided by the Author): Physical/Verbal Abuse (Minor), Blood (Minor), Bodies/Corpses (On-Page), Bones, Death/Dying (Referenced; On-Page), Drug Use (Referenced; On-Page), Forced Captivity/Kidnapping, Murder (Referenced), Sexism/Misogyny/Toxic Masculinity, Murder (Referenced), Sexual Content (Mild), Slavery/Indentured Servitude, Spiders, Violence (Mild) 


About the Author

Ayana Gray is a New York Times bestselling young adult fantasy author and a lover of all things monsters, mythos, and magic. Originally from Atlanta, she now lives in Little Rock, Arkansas where she reads avidly, follows Formula One racing, and worries over the varying moods of her adopted baby black rhino, Apollo, and her mini goldendoodle, Dolly.

 

Her debut novel, BEASTS OF PREY, is being translated in 10 languages across five continents, and is being adapted for film by Netflix.

Pronouns: She/Her





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