Thank you so much to Dave at The Write Reads for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, to the publishers, Egmont, for sending me a physical proof in return for my honest opinion and to the writer, Jack Meggitt-Phillips, for giving me a few hours of very satisfying reading time!
This is a deliciously dark, wickedly witty and heart-meltingly warm story, which I gulped down in a very satisfying single sitting. Excuse the bookish burps!
Ebenezer Tweezer is youthful in appearance and, if he does say so himself, really rather handsome, BUT he’s approaching his 512th birthday! What magic is this? Well, he is kept in this youthful state by a magical elixir given to him by the beast in his attic. The beast also vomits – yes, sorry, vomits – up all sorts of presents to keep Ebenezer in the lavish lifestyle to which he has become accustomed.
And the price? Why, nothing more than becoming a willing servant, ready and able to serve the beast any food it desires. Which is all very well when it demands, say, a rare singing parrot, but what about a plump, juicy child? Eternal youth versus child sacrifice? To be fair, Ebenezer does try to protest, but honestly, it’s no contest for this egotistical, vain fellow. One plump, juicy child coming up with the proviso that she’s horrible and truly deserving of being the beast’s next meal.
And what a child he finds! Bethany “Bog Off” lives in an orphanage and amuses herself by tormenting the other children. She’s horrible, nasty and mean, and just PERFECT for the beast’s next meal. But, are Ebenezer and the beast ready for what Bethany has to offer?
This is a completely unputdownable treat of a book which is brimming with fast-paced chaotic action, hilarious battles of will and plenty of heart-warming and poignant moments too. I dare anyone not to be desperate for a second helping!
I really enjoyed the changing dynamics of the interactions between Ebenezer and Bethany which sees them both tentatively reaching towards friendship, and seeking redemption in order to become good people, even if they’re not quite clear what ‘good’ constitutes, but together there is hope for both.
My heart went out to Bethany who has been sent to an orphanage run by the uncaring Miss Fizzlewick after the loss of her parents who she barely remembers. She doesn’t know what family is, yet is desperate for a sense of belonging. Then along comes Ebenezer who, whether he knows it or not, is lonely and in need of a friend and a moral compass. Each is just what the other needs.
And what can I offer up in defence of the beast? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Well, alright, maybe, just maybe, it feels a little inferior about its looks, but that really is no excuse for those eating habits and that demanding attitude!
This is such a cleverly layered story with important messages relating to themes of the fear of aging/death, overcoming loss, greed, the ability to empathise, honesty and the misuse of power. Its also ferociously funny, terrifically twisted and delightfully dark.
The proof I have does not have complete illustrations but those that are included complement the book perfectly: lively, expressive and whimsical. I’m looking forward to buying a finished copy so I can see all the illustrations.
The Beast and the Bethany has everything I love in a captivating story – sharply observed wit, wonderful characters and interaction, an imaginative plot, and just that je ne sais quoi that utterly charms the reader. I can’t wait to share this with my class!
Jack Meggitt-Phillips is an incredibly exciting new talent. He is an author, scriptwriter and playwright whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on Radio 4. He is scriptwriter and presenter of The History of Advertising podcast. In his mind, Jack is an enormously talented ballroom dancer, however his enthusiasm far surpasses his actual talent. Jack lives in north London where he spends most of his time drinking peculiar teas and reading PG Wodehouse novels.
Isabelle Follath Isabelle is an illustrator who has worked in advertising, fashion magazines and book publishing, but her true passion lies in illustrating children’s books. She also loves drinking an alarming amount of coffee, learning new crafts and looking for the perfect greenish-gold colour. Isabellelives in Zurich, Switzerland.