First things first – thank you to The Write Reads for including me on this tour, and for Egmont Books for providing an ARC of the book. The ARC, being what it is, did not have the full illustrations included, and I can only imagine how wonderful the full version will be once it’s out.
The Beast and the Bethany is, I think, going to be an excellent Christmas present for kids this year. And if you have kids in your life who like reading, I strongly suggest getting this. There’s a lot in its pages for them to love, to laugh at and enjoy.
Ebenezer Tweezer is about to turn 512. Thanks to the beast in his attic, he has access to a potion which keeps him youthful. But in return for the potion, and anything else Ebenezer desires, the beast has his own requests. The latest? He wants to eat a child. As the effects of his last dose wear off, Ebenezer takes a trip to the local orphanage, where he adopts the meanest, nastiest child he can find. Bethany goes home with Ebenezer, but the beast refuses his meal – instead, Ebenezer has three days to feed Bethany up before the beast eats her, adn Ebenezer soon realises living with Bethany for three days is not going to be easy.
A fun, witty, charming read, The Beast and the Bethany feels like a small dose of Roald Dahl, mixed in with something new and fresh in Meggitt-Phillips’ writing. Bethany isn’t evil; she’s a child looking for attention, anyway she can get it. And Ebenezer isn’t a bad man, but he has lived a long life, which has made him indifferent to the needs of other people.
These should be two dislikable, irritating characters, but in their own ways they are instantly charming and engaging. They both do horrible things, but we, as readers, know why they’re doing it, and throughout the book we see the friendship between the two deepen, as both come to realise how awful they really have been.
Considering this is a book about a man who feeds strange things to a beast – including rare animals – and an orphan who isn’t particularly pleasant, it still comes across as delightful. It was, oddly, the word that kept popping into my head as I read. The description of Ebeneezer’s house, the beast, and the places Ebeneezer visits, are all done well, and there are a few wonderful nods to other children’s stories.
Overall, I think this is a really enjoyable, fun book that a lot of readers – young and not so young! – will enjoy. If you’re a parent, I imagine reading this out loud to your children will be a great experience, and if you’re not but have little ones in your life, this will make a great present.
Rating: 5 Stars