Beasts of prey by Ayana Gray
Koffi is a 16 year old girl who is living a life of servitude with her mother, caring for monstrous creatures in the Night Zoo. Ekon is a young warrior desperate to join the ranks of the Sons of the Six. When Koffi unleashes a magical power she didn’t know she possessed one night and there is a fire at the Zoo, she and Ekon both face the Shetani a murderous beast that has been terrorising the city for years. A disgraced Ekon has let down the warriors by not arresting Koffi and is no longer given the chance to become an elite warrior. Meanwhile Koffi must earn enough to keep her mother and herself from lifelong slavery at the Zoo and she joins forces with Ekon to capture the Shetani. Each have a different agenda, Koffi to capture the Shetani for the greedy Zoo owner, Ekon to kill it and regain his place in the elite warrior class.
Beasts of prey will have instant appeal for readers who enjoy stories about magical beasts and young characters who are brave and determined, while acknowledging their weaknesses. The world building is very engaging. It is easy to image a Zoo full of strange creatures, tended by poor people who are barely making a living. The Shetani is strange and alluring and the mythic feel of the story is very appealing. In the Author’s note at the end of the book she details the influence that the continent of Africa had on the mythical animals and legends contained in the book.
Filled with magic and mythical beings, this will appeal to readers who enjoyed The gilded ones by Namina Forna, Raybearer by Jordan Ifueka and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Teacher's notes are available from the publisher as well as an introductory video.
Themes: Magic, Monsters, Jungles, Hunting, Good and evil, Fantasy.