Koffi, an indentured beastkeeper at the Night Zoo, wants to find the deadly Shetani and capture it for the zoo in order to save her family. Ekon, a boy who wants to become a warrior, wants to kill the Shetani to earn his place in the Sons of the Six. When the two forge an unlikely alliance, they find that the monster they are hunting, and their world itself, is not what they’ve been led to believe. If they want to survive, they need to learn to trust each other.
This is a super exciting, fast-paced fantasy told from three perspectives. We have Koffi, a fierce and determined young woman who is an indentured servant at the Night Zoo along with her mother. She desperately wants her and her family’s freedom and jumps at the chance to earn her freedom by hunting the dangerous and elusive monster, the Shetani. Then, we have Ekon, a nervous young man who is on the path to becoming a warrior with the Sons of the Six. When he doesn’t pass their test, though, he concocts a scheme to earn his way into their ranks by killing the beast responsible for so many warrior’s deaths, including his own father’s. Finally, we have Adiah, a perspective from the past. Adiah lives in a world filled with magic called the Splendor and she’s a talented magic user. All three perspectives are incredibly captivating. I especially loved the juxtaposition between Adiah’s past perspective and the present; it kept me guessing as to what happened to magic and how Adiah might have been involved.
The world building in this story is really wonderful. The majority of the story takes place in a bustling village called Lkossa and the mysterious Greater Jungle. The Greater Jungle is filled with fearsome creatures, deadly plants, and spirits, and it was such a compelling world to inhabit. As Koffi and Ekon navigate the Greater Jungle in search of the Shetani, they face many challenges that keeps the action high and the pacing fast.
Even with the fast pacing and intricate plotting, the characters get a good amount of development and their relationship to each other grows in a really natural way. Though they each start out keeping secrets from each other, they learn quickly that trust and honesty are paramount to getting out of the forest alive.
Beasts of Prey is a lush fantasy with strong world building and courageous, well-developed characters. I really loved this one and am looking forward to the next installment! If you’ve read Beasts of Prey, let me know what you thought!
CW: minor abuse, drug use, murder