The Beast is an Animal – written by Peternelle van Arsdale

  The Beast is an Animal – written by Peternelle van Arsdale, Margaret K. McElderry Book, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, 9781481488419, 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  The evil of Old Byd nursery rhymes is as real as a dark night, but a lit candle can only chase away shadows, while the Beast is relentless.  This debut novel is part fantasy, part horror, and fully engaging.  The setting is reminiscent of a Tim Burton film as dark twists of forest reach for through the pages, which will surely draw in readers looking for a chilling tale.  Much of the narration keeps its distance from the characters, focusing instead on developing the atmosphere of mystery and presenting itself like a fairy tale, deepening the curiosity of Alys and the soul eaters.  A poignant story with a satisfying conclusion.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Much of the book is dedicated to exposition; building the scene for Alys’s journey makes it more impact, but runs the risk of losing readers with its extending set-up.

To whom would you recommend this bookOlder fans of Coraline will enjoy the deeper journey into mystery and horror here. It would also make a good recommendation for those who enjoyed the tone of Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge.  Overall, a solid choice for those seeking a dark, modern fairy tale.

Who should buy this book? Teen library collections (public and school)

Where would you shelve it ? YA fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No. The high rating came for its unique appeal to horror, fantasy, and fairy tale fans, but this will certainly not be for everyone.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of review: April 10, 2017

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