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Ayana Gray’s ‘Beasts of War’ completes debut fantasy series

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Ayana Gray’s ‘Beasts of War’ completes debut fantasy series


Photo Caption: Ayana Grey (3rd from left) poses with family at the Little Rock launch of “Beasts of War,” the third and final book of the fantasy series author’s “Beasts of Prey” series.

By Viktoria Capek — Upon the release of “Beasts of War,” the third and final book of Ayana Gray’s “Beasts of Prey” series, the author faced the heartbreaking decision to delay the book tour’s launch in her hometown.

 Gray dedicated a third of her life to crafting the trilogy of adventure novels for it to culminate on a night disrupted by a rare Arkansas snowstorm. 

Fortunately, when WordsWorth Books in Little Rock’s Heights neighborhood rallied to host her launch a week late, not even the shift from snow to relentless rain could dampen Gray’s enthusiasm.

 Despite the rollercoaster of emotions, she was eager to share a closer look at her latest book, her 10-year writing journey, and her future plans with an audience just as excited to hear from her.

 Umbrellas piled in a corner of the cozy bookstore as Gray took the stage. She faced a room filled with supporters who were undeterred by the weather’s challenges. 

“It means the world that you all are here,” proclaimed Gray with utmost humility, despite being a New York Times-bestselling author for the first two books of her series, “Beasts of Prey” and “Beasts of Ruin.” 

Gray’s Pan-African-inspired trilogy weaves the adventures of Koffi and Ekon through a magical land, offering readers a blend of humor, sincerity, action and grief, underscored by a powerful theme of representation. 

The series stands out for its wide range of characters, from young to old, each with unique personalities and challenges catalyzed by mental health issues such as OCD and anxiety. It showcases a breadth of experiences and adventures within Black communities—stories often overlooked by the young adult fiction genre. 

Gray, having faced this lack of representation as a young Black reader, has made a profound impact with her series, leaving an indelible mark on her readers by making them feel seen. 

One poignant moment came when Gray recalled a comment made by a young reader who shared the author’s name and had never seen it on a book before. 

“It’s really cool to give kids the chance to be seen and put themselves into these adventures,” Gray shared with the audience, calling this moment one of the most meaningful experiences she’s had in the past decade. 

Aspiring writers and young creatives, eager to follow in Gray’s footsteps, asked questions focused on the author’s next project. Although Gray couldn’t reveal much, she hinted at working on new stand-alone novels. Afterward, she posed for pictures and signed copies of “Beasts of War” for fans.

Days after the event, Gray reflected on the solitary nature of writing and the joy of connecting with readers during tours, sharing on Instagram, “On a day-to-day basis, writing is an incredibly lonely profession… When I go on tour, it becomes less lonely.” 

She continued: “Readers remind me that my words are heard, are felt, and that my words matter. What a beautiful, singular joy that is, to be reminded that what you have to say (and write) matters to someone else in this world.”

 Signed copies of “Beasts of War” are available at WordsWorth and Paper Hearts Bookstores in Little Rock.


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