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Released: September 28 2021
Genre: Young Adult
Series: Beasts of Prey #1
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
“Beasts of Prey is a beautiful coming of age story of two strong characters that both must fight what they should do for what is right. They have to work together to do the right thing even if that comes at great personal cost.”~ Under the Covers
“Nightmares hunt like beasts of prey, vanquished in the light of day.”
In the broken, magicless city of Lkossa, sixteen-year-old Koffi works tirelessly with her mother to pay off their debt. They handle rare, dangerous creatures at the Night Zoo and the Zoo’s master is merciless. The night that the Night Zoo has special visitors, who have no respect towards these creatures, they are pushed too far and those who Koffi cares for are in serious danger. This is a catalyst to the magic, the splendor, that has long since been buried in Koffi, and she starts a fire when her magic unleashes.
In the same city, Ekon is the youngest son fighting to uphold his family’s legacy. His father has long passed away, killed by a demon called the Shetani, and Ekon is on the cusp of becoming a Son of the Six–an elite warrior, just like his father and older brother. On the night of this final test, a fire halts his initiation right when he was about to pass and sends the men to help. A Shetani threatens Ekon’s life but Koffi is able to send it away just by saying no. In debt to her, Ekon lets her go and thus gets booted from the Sons of the Six.
Koffi trades with the cruel Zoo’s master: the Shetani in exchange for her freedom. At the same time, Ekon wants to capture the Shetani in exchange for becoming a Son of the Six.
Beasts of Prey reminded me of Bone Criers Dawn mixed with Witches Steeped in Gold or The Gilded Ones. This book is heavily inspired by African folklore and is a Pan-African Fantasy. While it is fiction, it is also inspired by different regions, cultures, and folklore of Africa. The premise, while familiar, is revitalized and invigorated with the African folklore that Gray was inspired by.
I’ve never quite read a character like Ekon. It’s clear that he suffers from OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) either by default or through the trauma that going through the Great Jungle and losing his father at a young age caused. I thought Gray did a beautiful job with how it affected him and how it related to what he went through and also how it isn’t just a weakness–it also is an asset. All the characters were well developed and alive. Koffi was so multi-dimensional sometimes immature in her impulses but also wise in her kindness.
Beasts of Prey does incorporate some metaphysical/philosophical/mediation-like aspects– a lot like how Aang (Avatar) has to open his channels to access the avatar state. While sometimes this can be done in a way that is preachy, in this story it was done in a way that was healing and made sense.
Beasts of Prey is a beautiful coming of age story of two strong characters that both must fight what they should do for what is right. They have to work together to do the right thing even if that comes at great personal cost.
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