5 ⭐ review!
It’s no secret that I love stories with creepy woods, so I was happy to find that Beasts of Prey features a creepy jungle.
There are so many layers to this book. The worldbuilding is interesting and intricate, the characters are bright and distinctive on the page, and Gray’s writing style is really doing it for me.
Beasts of Prey is a Pan-African fantasy inspired by lore, animals, language, and even historical figures from many different African nations, as Gray explains in her author’s note. Gray also explores forced diaspora. You can really feel her love and devotion to the world and the story that she’s created, and it gives the book that extra layer that makes the world come alive.
Beasts of Prey does have some classic YA tropes, but I loved the main characters and the central themes of finding yourself and overcoming past trauma. The story follows two main characters: Koffi, an indentured beastkeeper of the Night Zoo, and Ekon, a trainee for a band of religious warriors called the Sons of Six. When Koffi accidentally unleashes magic she didn’t know she had, called the splendor, it gets her in trouble with the owner of the Night Zoo. She finds herself teaming up with Ekon, who is trying to prove himelf worthy of being a warrior, in order to track down a monster called the Shetani.
The book follows one other POV from a girl named Adiah, and I enjoyed puzzling out how she connects with the rest of the story.
The inner editor in me loves that Gray also included an annotation of her first chapter in the back of the book—I loved seeing her writing and editing process.
This is a great beginning to the series, and I recommend it if you’re looking for a story with multiple POVs, great characters, monsters, magic, and a creepy jungle!