- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Feb. 28 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1481488414
- ISBN-13: 978-1481488419
- Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.8 x 21 cm
- Shipping Weight: 422 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #330,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Beast Is an Animal Hardcover – Feb 28 2017
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"A dark atmospheric fantasy debut...achingly poetic." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A swift and compelling read that will be popular with fantasy and retold–fairy tale readers." (Booklist)
Rock-solid setting and a Salem witch trial–like culture ground readers in this slow-moving but psychologically intense
fantasy.... Van Arsdale sets up her dominoes so that when the first is finally knocked over, subsequent events cascade the story forward in a rush of energy through to the final showdown. (Horn Book)
The opening chapter, detailing the origin of the sister soul eaters, sets the disturbingly eerie tone of the book, and the atmosphere becomes oppressive in its darkness as the years move on and Alys’ inevitable meeting with the soul eaters come closer.... The detached narration and prolonged timeline makes this a slow burn story with a slightly folklike feel, and the few pages from the sisters’ perspective ratchet up the suspense to an almost unbearable level. The unsettling actions of the Puritan-like Defaiders and the chilling legend around the Beast combine to create a truly horrifying tale of revenge, murder, and evil. (BCCB)
Atmospheric and immersive, van Arsdale’s eerie fantasy keeps its focus on Alys’s struggle to reconcile who she is with what she wants to be as it builds toward a poignant and satisfying conclusion. (Publishers Weekly)
"The book reads like a historical fairy tale set in Puritan America. The mix of magic, folklore, and human struggle will appeal to a variety of readers. It explores the nuance of humanity, while also being about the things that go bump in the night."
(School Library Connection)
About the Author
Peternelle van Arsdale is a book editor who never thought she’d write a book, until one day she had a glimmer of an idea that became her first novel, The Beast Is an Animal. She lives in New York City. Visit her at PeternelleVanArsdale.com.See all Product description
From the Publisher
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It’s not too often you come across a book that feels like an old-time fairy tale – think your classic ‘once upon a time’ stories – but it is a brand new story. It contains many of the elements you’d expect in a fairy tale – twin girls banished from their regular lives, a heroine who doesn’t realize her importance, and a whole lot of uncertainty – and sometimes you almost feel like you’ve heard the story before, though it’s a brand new book.
This book starts out telling the story of two twin girls who are banished from the village under the presumption that they are evil. Whether they are or not as children is hard to say, but they definitely turn that way with how they’re treated. They terrorize and steal the souls of the people who hurt them, leaving just the children alive. One of these children is Alys, who sees the soul eaters, who doesn’t run in fear. Shipped off to the next village, Alys wonders who she really is, one of the villagers or one of the soul eaters.
The Good Points of The Beast Is An Animal:
The writing in this book is fantastic. It creates an amazing atmosphere for the dark fairy tale, while never leaving you feel like you’re actually reading the book.
The characters in this book, both major and minor, are incredible. They’re so unique and interesting. The beliefs of the villagers and the ‘evil’ characters, and the other communities are weave together within each of them, adding to their conflicts and adventures. And Alys is just wonderful. Her conflict of good vs. evil is so realistic and so much fun to read about.
The big conflict in this book is good vs. evil, which has been done a million and one times already. But this book was very realistic about how it as approached, and it handled each person’s personal beliefs about good and evil really well. It’s nice to see characters who are not necessarily bad or good, but just fall somewhere on the spectrum.
There isn’t a ton of world building in this book, but we know what Alys and the twins know. And in a story like this, where it’s made clear that people don’t really leave their villages, that does work. You learn about the world and the people in it as the characters do. Some people will probably complain it isn’t enough, but I liked it.
The Downsides of The Beast Is An Animal:
Some parts of the story, especially as Alys was growing up, dragged. A lot of it was giving information, or developing characters, or something else important, but it seemed to take a while to get through.
It contains a lot of common elements from other fairy tales, where it could have done something really cool. Like the religious elements from the Defaid people. The author could have played a lot with this, but instead, played it safe and just rephrased Christianity. And it worked, but I feel like there was so much room to make it even more amazing.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a creepy, fun modern-day fairy tale with a fun world and atmosphere and lots of great characters. I do think there was room to make it even better, but I won’t complain about what we got. If you love fairy tales and creepy stories, you should definitely check out this book.
Alys and the other children of her village need a fresh start, but they will never be able to shake what happened to them. Somehow Alys has a connection with the soul eaters. She also meets the Beast, which scares her and makes her curious at the same time. There's a difficult task ahead of her, but will she succeed? Or is she just like the twins, dark inside without any goodness? Alys has to find out who she is exactly and only then can she become who she's supposed to be. There is no safety for anyone though and the danger keeps growing, will she have enough time?
The Beast Is an Animal is a fantastic creepy story. The soul eaters are both awful and fascinating at the same time. They are together, but they are one instead of two. They are hungry for souls, they're the nightmarish characters of nursery rhymes and they strike at night when people least expect it. They can erase entire villages and those who have faith are willing to keep evil away, they are trying to stay safe at all costs. This has a reversed effect and I loved how Peternelle van Arsdale plays with the boundaries of good and evil, she does that in a marvelous thought-provoking way. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to the two sisters, the Beast, the children and Alys and the people she loves. This kept me on the edge of my seat and I read The Beast Is an Animal in one sitting because I was completely spellbound and couldn't put it down.
Peternelle van Arsdale has a beautiful writing style. I loved the way she describes what's in the hearts of her main characters. Alys has an amazing multilayered personality. She constantly struggles with what she is and who she is and I was captivated by her from the beginning. Peternelle van Arsdale's vivid imagination is gorgeous and because of it Alys has a versatile personality that's based on contrasts. She is fierce and loyal, she's kind, but defiant, she's light and dark and she isn't afraid to look into her own soul. That is something I really enjoyed about The Beast Is an Animal, it shows the importance of self-knowledge and that makes the story extra special. Alys is going through plenty of emotions, each of them interesting and unexpected. Her story reads like a fairytale and is just as enchanting. I really loved this incredibly well written scary book.
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