Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 496 pages
Author: Ayana Gray
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s
Release Date: September 28th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
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.
In this much-anticipated series opener, fate binds two Black teenagers together as they strike a dangerous alliance to hunt down the ancient creature menacing their home–and discover much more than they bargained for.
Thank you to the Publisher and Netgalley for an eARC. All opinions are my own!
MUST HAVE SEQUEL.
There has to be more right?
Because I need ANSWERS.
Admittedly, it’s not an insane cliffhanger, but it definitely opens up for another novel with some questions and plot that need resolved. Crossing my fingers there’s more to come!!
I really enjoyed this one. It is SLOW though. Know that going in. It took about 30% before I fully grasped what the point of the plot was (as I only read the synopsis once I usually forget what exactly is supposed to happen by the time I read a book). Once I got an idea of where this was all going I was much more invested. Beautiful writing kept me engaged and turning pages and I melted into the slower pacing as I soaked up this world.
Koffi and Ekon were great narrators and main characters. I love the dual POV (+ a third one, that I won’t name for spoilers!). Moving back and forth between them helped establish the connection building in their relationship and the dynamics of reasoning for both of their situations. There’s a very subtle and light romance as well that I found really sweet. This is definitely not a romantic fantasy, but it’s a good little sub plot.
This is a solid debut novel filled with Pan-African influence. I loved the magical hunt and all of the wild creatures that were encountered. The action keeps ticking up as the pages increased leaving me flipping fast at the end. It’s a beautiful world, with a magic system I thought was well constructed and I look forward to [HOPEFULLY] a second book!!
Overall audience notes:
- YA Fantasy
- Language: very little
- Romance: kisses
- Violence: animal attacks, a large scene involving spiders, physical altercations, weapons use
- Trigger/Content Warnings: physical/verbal abuse, loss of loved ones, drug use, kidnapping, murder, sexism, slavery/indentured servitude