Genre: Children’s (age 9+)
Similar to: Somewhere between Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman – it very much reminded me of The Graveyard Book
Could be enjoyed by: Everyone – it’s one of those children’s or “middle grade” books that adults can enjoy too
Publication date: 1st October 2020
Don’t feed the beast!
Eberneezer Tweezer is a somewhat suspiciously youthful 511 year old with a fabulously wealthy lifestyle. However, he harbours a dark secret… a dark, smelly, hungry secret… known as The Beast.
Feeding The Beast is an ever-more arduous task for Eberneezer. You see, The Beast has somewhat – shall we say – exotic tastes. From Wintlorian Purple-Breasted Parrots to medium sized statues of Winston Churchill, The Beast craves ever more esoteric items for his dinner. Unfortunately for Eberneezer, if he fails to provide these items he won’t be able to maintain his lavish lifestyle – or indeed, his life. So when The Beast asks for the ultimate in nouvelle cuisine… something small, loud and very much child-shaped, Eberneezer faces an extraordinarily difficult challenge…
The Beast and The Bethany is the most darkly delicious book I’ve read in a long time. Very much reminiscent of Roald Dahl or even Neil Gaiman, the book races along with a cast of flawed, utterly amoral characters who are immediately unlikeable and yet somehow still manage to have you rooting for them. Eberneezer is vain, shallow and violently selfish; Bethany is cruel, devious and downright mean. Eberneezer has lived for so long without any difficulties that he’s forgotten how to have empathy whereas Bethany is the kind of little girl who would feed you worms for a laugh. When they’re forced to work together to defeat the truly terrible Beast, it’s hardly plain sailing but it’s truly lovely to see such an odd pair learn from each other to build a friendship – and become marginally better people in the process.
I loved the writing in the book and the immediacy of the storyline – it was non-stop, fast-paced, other-hyphenated-adjectives action from start to finish. As an adult I raced through the novel in a couple of hours and I really liked all of the little jokes and ironies that wouldn’t quite be appreciated by children – a bit like the writing in The Simpsons. The book is quite dark in places but that made it even more likeable for me; after all, no-one wants to read a nice story that doesn’t juxtapose good with evil.
My proof copy only had a few illustrations but they were excellent and really added to the reading experience. Bethany looks like Wednesday Adams meets Jane Lane from Daria and in my head Eberneezer Tweezer looked like a Dickensian fop – somewhere between Jacob Rees-Mogg and Russell Brand (which may go some way to explaining his personality). I was really excited to hear that the film rights to the novel have already been sold (to Warner Bros!) so I can’t wait to see who is cast in screen adaptation (c’mon Jacob, it’ll be good for your likeability rating. Like when Ed Balls did Gangnam Style on Strictly).
I would highly recommend this book to everyone – especially those after a bit of escapism from, well, all of the everything that’s going on right now and as a library volunteer I will be suggesting it to exasperated parents who “just want their 10 year old to read something… anything!”
Five “Don’t feed the beast!”s out of five.
Sweet, action packed, gruesomely hilarious FUN!
Please note that I read this free ARC in exchange for an honest review courtesy of The Write Reads Blog Tours. Thanks Dave!
Huge thanks also go to Jack Meggitt-Phillips and Isabelle Follath for creating The Beast and The Bethany and for letting me have a copy! It’s a good job I had a spare cage…
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