A riveting start to a new series, Beasts of Prey, throws the reader into a mystical jungle following two compelling characters from different tribes.
I loved this book; let us start there. Beasts of Prey shifts between two time periods and three different characters, moving effortlessly. However, one of my biggest pet peeves for storytelling is when the writer goes back and forth in time in a clunky way. It takes me out of the story.
Luckily, Gray is an incredible and proficient writer. The story begins with Adiah in a time of magic. If you read the back cover, there is no mention of Adiah being a person of interest, so the reader’s interest is already peaked. Picking up this novel, readers are already engaged, wondering who this mysterious character is.
Moreover, the line of that first chapter is a jaw-dropper. After that, we are introduced to Koffi and Ekon. This is where we begin to understand that Adiah’s story arc occurs in the past, and Koffi and Ekon’s arc occurs in the present. I love how Gray tells the reader this without telling us. She uses setting, culture, language, and world-building to tell this to the reader and give us an indication of when. Gray shows us, she does not tell us and that showing, not telling, is always one of the challenges of being a writer. However, Gray is a talented enough writer that everything comes off effortlessly.
Compelling & Exciting
The characters drive Beasts of Prey’s relentless momentum. Koffi is an indentured slave working off her fathers’ debt at the midnight zoo. However, an incident pushes her to reveal the magic deep inside her, forcing her to bargain for her freedom. Unfortunately, this sends Koffi to the path of Ekon, who failed his initiation to be a warrior, who has decided that her bargain could earn him his place as a warrior.
Koffi and Ekon are from different backgrounds, part of different groups of people. Gray has taken inspiration from her culture and roots to develop the world and the character’s backgrounds. Different beliefs and different backgrounds are, unfortunately, a reason for hate. However, Koffi and Ekon put aside their background and grow beyond it, respecting each other. Koffi is more respectful than many of his other comrades regarding some of his peculiarities.
Ekon has nervous ticks and excels academically. He is a brilliant warrior, but others tend to overlook his brilliance in favor of highlighting his ticks. Koffi is respectful, shrugging at everything others call him odd for.
The way the characters grow and interact with one another draws the reader in. We are drawn to these characters; we connect to them as they drive the plot forward. It makes for a more engaging read. We care about their trials about their struggles, and we want them to persevere.
Beasts of Prey is a fantastic novel. We are drawn into the narrative, the rising tension, and the excellent pacing from beginning to end. It is exciting, breathtaking, unique, and a must-read.
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|Pub Date: September 28, 2021||Page Count: 496pp||Age Range: 12 & Over|
|ISBN: 978-0-5934-0568-0||Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers||List Price: $18.99|