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Beasts of Prey Series Gets New Design for a Great Reason

We're all ears for #Blackboyjoy.

Beast of Prey and Beast of Ruin by Ayana Gray. (Image: Penguin Teen.)

For readers who like their copies of a book series to match spine to spine and cover to cover, it’s very disappointing when series change cover styles midway through release. This is a small problem, but the order of perfectly matching cover art brings moments of relief in a world of chaos. Sometimes this is derailed because the publisher changes hands or the designer moves away from the project. In most cases, we just don’t know why it happens.

To demystify publishing and all sorts of behind-the-scenes decisions, many authors have taken to social media to share information with their audience and devoted readers. One such author is Beasts of Prey author Ayana Gray.

Gray regularly responds to readers and aspiring writers via TikTok videos and Twitter replies. The day after Penguin Teen and the Tamara Hall Show revealed the very different cover for book two of her trilogy, Gray went online to address the reason for this change, which swapped the original version’s artwork for a new version featuring closeups of the characters’ faces.

Gray noted that other than the second book in Roseanne Brown’s duology (A Psalm of Storms and Silence), there were no other YA fantasy books with a Black boy on the cover. She wanted Black boys to know this book was another way to see themselves. While we’ve seen more Black boys in children’s and middle-grade fantasy over the last few years, YA fantasy still lags behind.

On Twitter, Gray explained further that she was proud to have her main character just “being” on the cover and not smiling. The novel follows two Black teens in a dangerous alliance, hunting down an ancient creature. There are moments of levity, but also this is a high-stakes fantasy. Gray explained that she approached her editor, and they came to these decisions together.

When can I get a copy?

Book two in the trilogy, Beasts of Ruin, releases in hardcover June 26. The paperback edition of Beasts of Prey releases June 28 with the new cover. There’s no word on when the new cover design will be available in hardcover for Beasts of Prey, but it’ll likely be beyond this summer.

There are likely too many hard copies of the original design by the talented Theresa Evangelista to warrant printing new hardcovers right now. Just yesterday, Gray shared a preorder link for a sprayed-edges edition of Beasts of Prey coming from the massive U.K. bookseller Waterstones on March 1.

Beasts of Prey adaptation

Four days before Beast of Prey was published back in September, The Hollywood Reporter announced Netflix picked up Gray’s novel for a fantasy series adaptation. This isn’t rare (even for debut authors), but it usually happens after high-profile bids. For example, Fox 2000 optioned Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give after the massive bidding war for the novel.

On the episode of Tamara Hall Show where the new covers were revealed, Gray spoke on what it felt like knowing that her debut novel was going to be adapted.

Gray told Hall, “For such a long time, all I wanted was to write a book. Then multiple books, and I didn’t think even in my wildest dreams that I’d would ever get to say, ‘my books are going to be made into a movie.’ It’s been surreal, to be honest with you.”

(featured image: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers and Alyssa Shotwell)

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(she/her) Award-winning artist and blogger with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. Starting as an Online Editor for her college paper in October 2017, Alyssa began writing for the first time within two months of working in the newsroom. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3, Apex Legends, and CS:GO. Still trying to beat Saxon Farm on RCT 3 (so I can 100% the game.)