A Wonderful Use of YA Tropes: Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Release Date: September 28, 2021
Series: Beasts of Prey #1
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy


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.

My Thoughts

One of the things I love most about Beasts of Prey is how well Gray utilizes YA fantasy tropes. She dabbles with the Chosen One, enemies to lovers, the epic quest, the corrupt authority figure, among others. This is not a ding on tropes, mind you. I love ‘em. Tropes make the world go ‘round. Gray takes those wonderful tropes we’ve seen a million times and applies them to the narrative in provocative ways, both respecting the classic trope and also pushing it to the edge. ..

Read the rest of this review at Tor.com.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy. Buy it at Bookshop.org (affiliate link).

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