Was “Beasts of Prey” a Beast of a Debut?

Hey y’all!

Now I will be real. I went into this book blind. I’ve never heard of the author. I’ve never heard of the book. I didn’t even know what this book was about! I saw the book, Beats of Prey by Ayana Gray, on Instagram. Epic Reads‘s profile was promoting this book that was going to come out and I was intrigued by the cover. Once I read that this was a debut for a new black author, I was even more interested and so I bought the book. It’s a YA Fantasy Pan-African book. Gray said that she wanted characters that looked like her and she wanted to share some African mythology. I got the Kindle version because well I was on a budget and didn’t know if I would hate the book.

The author did a post on Goodreads about the trigger warnings for the readers and they are: Physical/Verbal Abuse (Minor), Blood (Minor), Bodies/Corpses, Bones, Death/Dying,Drug Use, Forced Captivity/KidnappingMurder (Referenced),Sexism/Misogyny/Toxic Masculinity.

Sexual Content (Mild)

Slavery/Indentured Servitude

Spiders

Violence (Mild)

Did Beasts of Prey let me down? Read on to find out!

Synopsis

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.

Review

Great debut. I went I to this book totally blind. I had no idea what it was going to be about and that’s so not like me so I’m pleasantly surprised I enjoyed it. I couldn’t put it down. The only reason I put it down was to charge my kindle lol. I enjoyed the writing and the world building. I love the cliffhanger she left it on which lets me know there wil! Probably be one of two more books to come.

I will be honest and say that I didn’t like the girl who became the shetani (I’m legit drawing a blank for her name). She was way too reckless for my liking and well…I think it’s her fault for things turning out the way it was for her. She knew she couldn’t handle all the magic that she had and yet she craved more of it and boom…she became the shetani!

I fell in love with Ekon. I loved seeing him grow from a scared boy who loved books and doing things by a plan. It’s satisfying to see a character who does things strategically and methodically whereas someone like me who is not as organized as him found it quite nice to read about someone who has to know how things go. He has to follow the rules and to see him do something kinda out of character was great!

I found some great quotes in the book:

  • “Maybe there’s a beauty in the scars…Because they’re a reminder of what’s been faced and what’s been survived”
  • “He liked books, generally speaking, because they could be trusted to be consistent. A book could be read a thousand different times, a thousand different ways, but the words on the page would never change. Unlike people, books couldn’t be disappointed in you. They couldn’t abandon you; they couldn’t fail you”
  • “Sometimes, though, you can’t lead with your heart. You have to think with your head”
  • Often, we run from painful things and hope that they will tire of chasing us. But in truth, avoiding our troubles simply gives them more sustenance, allowing them to eventually consume us whole. Only when we cast light on them and acknowledge them can they truly be vanquished, allowing our spirits to be free

It’s low-key funny that she made the villain a light skinned male. I thought it was funny. If you’re not aware, a lot of times, light-skinned black men are like s***ted on because usually when they’re light skinned and they know that they’re attractive, they cheat. Like that’s the running joke and I chuckled a little when I noticed that the villain was a light-skinned man with curly hair and beautiful eyes. And what does he do? Ruin a girl’s life. Like funny.  

I gave this a 3.5/5 stars. I’d say check it out. Buy it for your niece or nephew. Buy a copy for your classroom. I definitely recommend this book!

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