Friday, March 10, 2017

Title: The Beast is an Animal
Author: Peternelle van Arsdale
Narrator(s): Candace Thaxton
Series: stand-alone
Length: 8 hrs 48 mins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Source: galley & audio received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

I was so sure I was going to love this story. I even featured it as a Waiting on Wednesday pick, back when I was still doing those. But despite all signs pointing to this being a "Jen" book, I just didn't click with it.

It's perfectly eerie and odd and something I totally should have loved, but when I attempted to read the galley I was provided, I only got to about 10% before setting it aside. I thought I'd come back to it eventually, but I just never felt compelled to keep reading. But then I was offered a copy of the audio for review, and my curiosity was renewed. Surely, someone reading this creepy, folksy tale would make all the difference.

To some extent, it did. As the narrator was reading, I felt the pull to the supernatural that Alys did. There was always something there at the edge of my subconscious, niggling and gnawing for notice. Like there was some greater knowledge I was chasing as I listened. And I think that's the thing that kept me listening, even as I wondered if anything truly interesting was ever going to happen.

There's plenty of weirdness and awfulness that does occur in the book and yet I was numb to it. Probably because that's how Alys seemed. Like the shell of a girl. And maybe that's the point of the story, too, but I just wanted...more. I wanted Alys to be more. I wanted the Beast to be more. The soul-eating sisters...they were perfectly creepy, but they were the only aspect that really felt the way it was supposed to, I think.

I'm usually all for a slow, disturbing story, but I just couldn't connect with this one, despite the atmospheric writing. I feel like there are probably loads of people who will enjoy it for what it is, but I think I was expecting a story not unlike Hunted by Meagan Spooner, which I am reviewing next week, and incidentally I read after this book, and so it had no bearing on my opinion of this particular story.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Peternelle van Arsdale is a book editor who never thought she'd write a book. She lives in New York City, where she is at work on her second novel.

Find Peternelle:

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  1. I was really excited about this one when I first heard about it, and I absolutely love that cover, but it seems like not too many people have really loved it. I may still pick it up one day, just to satisfy my curiosity, tho. Great review, Jen!

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