TITLE: The Beast and the Bethany
BY: Jack Meggitt-Phillips, Isabelle Follath (Illustrator)
SERIES: The Beast and the Bethany #1
GENRE: Childrens, Middle-Grade, Fantasy
PUBLICATION: October 1st 2020 by Egmont
NOTES: An e-copy was granted to me via Netgalley for a blog tour.
Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan . . .”
This was marketed as Lemony Snicket meets Dorian Gray, and also promises the macabre humour of Roald Dahl and the warmth and charm of Despicable Me, and wow, the marketing team of this book did a great job because those are exactly what The Beast and the Bethany has delivered. Well, those and more.
This book is a delightful treat. Just a few days ago I was telling my cousin that it’s been a long while since I read for pleasure and not for a blog tour or ARC (I’m not complaining, just merely stating a fact) and then I read this book and I was more thankful that I join blog tours hosted by people whose book preferences I trust, such as Dave. Why, this book is amazing. I enjoyed it right from the start and couldn’t put it down.
It opens on a scene introducing two of the main characters, Ebenezer Tweezer and Bethany and instantly letting me know who they are and how they are as characters. They are the most interesting. The opening line promptly gives a lot about Ebenezer. It says…
Ebenezer tweezer was a terrible man with a wonderful life.– Jack Meggitt-Phillips (The Beast and the Bethany)
And then Bethany, even with her seemingly innocent first line in the book, she was obviously not a nice kid. I liked the main characters and probably the best part of this book. They’re morally grey and the author didn’t hide their flaws or rather their cruelty – Bethany with the cruelty, or naughtiness, of a child and Ebenezer who is almost heartless and whose priority is staying young. Ebenezer, in his 511 years, let his pet beast influence and dictate his actions. I would even say he was manipulated, though the beast and Ebenezer’s relationship started almost innocently.
I really, REALLY, loved reading about the main characters and seeing how they grew. It’s a bit predictable where the story is heading or how the characters will evolve by the end of the book but it’s still amazing going through the journey, seeing them develop feelings. Ebenezer and Bethany really crawled their ways to my heart. Their backstories also tugged at my heartstrings, which brings me to the mood of the book. This book seems charming and heartwarming and it is but more than that it is dark and sad at times.
One of the saddest scenes for me is when Bethany asked something from the beast. I thought she was going to ask for a pet because she wants one but she asked for something else and I almost tear up seeing her so heartbroken. You see, Bethany is an orphan. Go figure. As for Ebenezer…There is something sad about people who value their physique or beauty. This theme has always been a sensitive issue for me. I won’t talk about why but stories with this theme always hits me hard. And Ebenezer is such a very likable character, despite everything, that reading his story makes me somehow sad. Obviously this book has moral lessons, lessons I’m pretty sure we all already know but we just don’t live by them. Again, it’s sad.
The side characters are well-written as well. I liked that I felt as if I spent as much time with the side characters as with the main characters, which is impossible because most of the scenes only feature Ebenezer, Bethany and the beast. The beast is a fascinating creature. Yes, he is evil. It’s not a morally grey character, he’s really evil and has done lots of evil in the story. And yet I liked how he was written. The author obviously succeeded in writing a good antagonist.
The book is really well-written and the story engaging. The writing style is okay. It’s simple and easy to read which is expected in this genre. Though there are times that I felt the writing is trying hard to appeal to older readers, which first of all, it doesn’t have to because the story will appeal to all ages. But anyway, I guess some of the quotes won’t appeal to kids nor would they understand them. The illustrations in this book are also amazing. I love them. I’m definitely adding this book to my list of Childrens books to buy. (I will never have children but I have little cousins who I want to buy MG books for.)
RATING: 4.5 blissful pages with lilies
As I already said, this book will appeal to all ages. Its meaningful messages will appeal to older readers and even young readers with the guidance of adults. Especially since in order to deliver those messages, this book touches difficult themes. But there’s humour in this book too which kids and kids at heart will enjoy.
Have you read this book? Or planning to? What do you think of it? Let’s chat.