The Beast is an Animal

The Beast is an Animal

The Beast is an Animal
Peternelle van Arsdale

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471160455

The Beast is an animal You'd better lock the Gate Or when it's dark, It comes for you Then it will be too late Alys was the only one to see the soul eaters when they came to her village. The others were sleeping. They never woke up... Now, an orphan, Alys knows the full danger of the soul eaters. She's heard the nursery rhymes the chidren sing about the twin sisters who feed on souls. She's seen people disappear into the fforest and never come back. So why, then, does she find herself mysteriously drawn to the fforest? Is she what everyone around her says she is? A witch? Alys soon finds herself on a journey that will take her to the very heart of the fforest. There she must decide where true evil lies. And face the thing they call ...The Beast. A fairy tale with a difference: shivery, dark, and deeply satisfying. 'Read it if you loved The Handmaid's Tale' - Entertainment Weekly

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Reviews

The Beast is an Animal5/5

The Beast is an Animal

Peternelle van Arsdale

Review

This is an enthralling story by Peternell van Arsdale that reminded me of old folk tales with its atmospheric descriptions, mythical characters and moral layers but also because, as in the original tellings, there are truly dreadful consequences for doing the wrong thing.

In The Beast is an Animal, a small community fears the arrival of twin babies who have matching birthmarks, so they ostracise the mother and her children. The children grow up in the 'fforest', marked by their abandonment and isolation, to become 'soul eaters', feeding off the fear of the villagers who cast them out. Only one child isn't afraid of what the sisters have become, a girl called Alys, who has powers of her own - powers she must keep hidden or be accused of witchcraft. Then Alys meets 'the Beast' in the forest and is given what seems an overwhelming and impossible task.

The rich layering of the story within this framework, the believable quality of the world van Arsdale describes and the characterisation are each beautifully done; it is certainly a book that will reward re-reading. The author also explores powerful women; how they are feared and how society treats them, as well as how we treat our own children and those of 'strangers', so there is much to discuss.

Although the first few pages read as if its a tale for children, the story soon becomes very dark and so I would recommend it for those aged 12+ (and adults) who enjoy an edgier read. I thought it was a thoughtful, beautifully-written novel and it's one that has stayed with me - a remarkable YA debut, I look forward to seeing what Peternelle van Arsdale writes next.

352 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Karen Hall.

Reviewed by: Karen Hall


The Beast is an Animal4/5

The Beast is an Animal

Peternelle van Arsdale

Review

This is a mixture of myth, fairy tale and folk lore based around a scary rhyme about the Beast who comes when it is dark. The small isolated village communities of this world fear the soul eaters who haunt the night time and drain people of their life essence. Alys and the other children escaped the soul eaters which took their parents, but are now viewed suspiciously by the community to which they travelled for help and safe-keeping.

Their new community is bound by strict rules founded through their fear of the unusual, of strangers, of witchcraft, and of what is deemed evil. The intertwined fates of Alys and the Beast lead Alys to attempt to save the world from the soul eaters.

An atmospheric and haunting tale of suspense told where the differences between good and evil are not always obvious. Evocative language and rich characterisation make for an enjoyable read.

352 pages/ Age 12+/ Reviewed by Sam Pett.

Reviewed by: Sam Pett