Beasts of Prey

Putnam. Sept. 2021. 496p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593405680.
Gr 9 Up–Sixteen-year-old Koffi yearns to be free of her family’s indentured life as beast keepers at the Night Zoo—a menagerie filled with terrifying magical creatures and run by the cruel, selfish master of the Night Zoo, Baaz. Ekon wants only to uphold his family’s legacy of being elite warriors—members of the famed Sons of Six—but on the night of his final test, a fire at the Night Zoo changes everything for both of them. Ekon is stripped of his chance to be a warrior and Koffi, who was so close to freedom, is given a lifetime of indenture. In a desperate attempt to gain not only her own freedom but that of the people she loves, she makes a bargain with Baaz—she will capture the Shetani, a fearsome creature that has held their village captive for nearly a century, and bring it back to the Night Zoo. Meanwhile Ekon, desperate to prove his worth as a warrior, decides that the best way to regain his honor is to kill the creature that has been terrorizing his village. As reluctant partners on similar quests, Koffi and Ekon venture deep into the Greater Jungle. The stakes have never been higher and with each brush with death they learn far more about themselves and their world than they ever imagined. With its memorable characters, and a lush, expansive world, Gray’s debut is an action-packed adventure that will tug at hearts and keep teens glued to the page, yearning for more.
VERDICT Essential for all collections.

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