Click to listen!
Title: The Beast and the Bethany
Author: Jack Meggitt-Phillips
Published: 1st of October 2020 – Egmont
Format: eARC (Netgalley) – 256 pages
Hello Hello! How are you?
I’m kicking off the new week with a very exciting review and I’m also kicking off the latest #UltimateBlogTour with my spot on The Beast and the Bethany tour, hosted by Dave from @The_WriteReads. I always love the books that Dave offers on his tour, and when he told us about this amazing book, I couldn’t help but sign-up for the tour!
I love middle grade, and being one of the founders and co-hosts of the Middle Grade Marvels book club, this is especially an exciting book for me! Keep your eyes peeled for a joint interview spot with the author that both Noly and I were lucky enough to do!
Without further ado and Ellie-waffle, welcome to The Beast and the Bethany tour, and beware of the beast in the attic, he might jump out and eat you if you look yummy enough!
Thank you so much to Dave, the author, Egmont and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. And thank you very much to Dave for having me!
Lemony Snicket meets Roald Dahl in this riotously funny, deliciously macabre, and highly illustrated tale of a hungry beast, a vain immortal man, and a not-so-charming little girl who doesn’t know she’s about to be eaten.
Beauty comes at a price. And no one knows that better than Ebenezer Tweezer, who has stayed beautiful for 511 years. How, you may wonder? Ebenezer simply has to feed the beast in the attic of his mansion. In return for meals of performing monkeys, statues of Winston Churchill, and the occasional cactus, Ebenezer gets potions that keep him young and beautiful, as well as other presents.
But the beast grows ever greedier with each meal, and one day he announces that he’d like to eat a nice, juicy child next. Ebenezer has never done anything quite this terrible to hold onto his wonderful life. Still, he finds the absolutely snottiest, naughtiest, and most frankly unpleasant child he can and prepares to feed her to the beast.
The child, Bethany, may just be more than Ebenezer bargained for. She’s certainly a really rather rude houseguest, but Ebenezer still finds himself wishing she didn’t have to be gobbled up after all. Could it be Bethany is less meal-worthy and more…friend-worthy?
The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips is a middle grade fantasy story which is dark, creepy, has some fairly unlikeable characters, wit, snarky comments, but also some very valuable and important messages. I love middle grade books and have been loving reading more and more of them in the past few months. This is my own opinion, but I feel like middle grade books are often more complex and have very important messages, so I am so happy when I find a new one that is worth adding to my list of books to recommend to children, and to adults who are still kids at heart!
In this book, we meet Ebenezer, a 511-year-old man who has a magical beast in his attic. He feeds his beast everything that it wants in exchange for gifts, but most importantly, a yearly serum that keeps him alive, young and beautiful for a whole other year. However, this year, the beast wants something special to eat, and Ebenezer doesn’t stop to think before rushing off in search of his meal, that is until he meets her.
I loved how we were introduced to Ebenezer, the beast and then Bethany. I’ve actually not read that many books where all the characters are all evil, cruel, badly behaved or morally grey, so this was a great one for that. I have to admit it really did remind me of the Lemony Snicket books, the atmosphere was really dark, and actually, this book gets quite sad at times, so be aware of that if you are gifting it to a child or a sensitive reader.
Ebenezer is a really cruel and morally grey character, but as we meet him, get to know him and see him evolve, both through his own reflections and living with Bethany and being influenced by her, you can definitely tell that there is more to him than first impressions. I really like when you meet a really bad character and you discover that it’s only really by bad influences that they became bad or evil themselves, and it’s a very intriguing plot to see these characters evolve into better people.
Bethany is what we would all call a brat. She is an orphan and we learn that she doesn’t even really remember her parents as they died when she was a baby. The orphanage where Ebenezer finds her is absolutely atrocious, and again, the owners’ office and demeanour really reminded me of a few characters from the Lemony Snicket books. I hate seeing really awful, selfish and cruel characters, but I love it when they get what’s coming to them and karma bites their bum (wink wink).
This book does get dark, but it is also a book full of some really amazing messages for both children and adults. These characters are all cruel to one another and Ebenezer and the beast have done some awful things in the past, they plan to do even worse things, but when Bethany comes into the picture, Ebenezer starts seeing things differently, especially as he ages rapidly every single day. I loved the evolution we see in this book. It was great to see what went through their minds and how they came to be better.
As I said just before, there are some strong and important messages in these books which are relevant and so very needed today. This book is fun and a distraction, but if you peer a little closer, you will realise that the author brings forward questions of greedy, cruelty, being an orphan, being mean, but also learning to apologise and to think about others. I loved the messages in this book, it was maybe my favourite part and I absolutely loved how karma came right around and good prevailed over bad.
The ending of this book was really great too and even though it left a few questions, it left me even more excited for the second book in the series which will be released sometime in 2021. I think this has the potential to become a great story for children and adults alike!
There were also some illustrations throughout and they were so fun, I love the odd illustration in books and these ones made the story so much more immersive and you definitely were able to get more of a feel of the characters through these pictures!
Trigger Warnings: death of a parent, orphanage, cruel characters, death of a pet, death of a bird, verbal cruelty, grief, sadness.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this was such a fun, fast-paced, well-written book with some very questionable and badly behaved characters, but most of all, character growth and important messages to learn. I loved the dark vibes I was getting from this book, it definitely turns cruel and sad at times, so I can imagine that it could be triggering to some but as long as you are aware of the fact, I think you should be okay.
I gave this book 5 stars and you can find my ASPECTS rating breakdown below. I really loved this book from start to finish, I was hooked and had so many questions once I finished it, so I’m very excited for my interview spot with the author in conjunction with Noly from The Artsy Reader. I would recommend this book to lovers of middle grade fantasy, to children and adults, it’s just one of those great books that need to be read. And I’m also very much looking forward to the movie!
Thank you so much once again to Dave for organising and hosting this tour, as always, it was amazing and I can’t wait to read everyone else’s reviews. Thank you to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for the free book!
Thar’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed my review, see you soon, stay safe,
Atmosphere – 9
Start – 8
Pacing – 9
Ending – 8.5
Characters – 7.5
Theme – 8
Style – 9
Total = 59
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Audible UK – Kobo