Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan . . .”
The Beast and the Bethany is a decadent delight of a book, a real treat for the taste buds and as many other culinary based notes of praise you can think of! In short, as a family we loved it. I’m going to come out and say it, but I haven’t laughed as much at a middle grade book since Roald Dahl, it’s the same slightly dark story line and morally grey protagonists that make for the perfect children’s read.
Ebeneezer is not a nice man, he is vain and greedy, he is Dorian Grey without the picture and has to a degree forgotten what it is to be human. His service to the beast is all encompassing and the ease in which he is prepared to just feet it a child is pretty chilling in a Lemony Snicket kind of way, he has a great little story ARC and quite the voyage of self discovery which was done brilliantly. The beast is not a nice beast, he is cruel, unforgiving and very selfish. And Bethany, well she’s not that nice either all be told, she totally reminded me of a character from an old St Trinians movie, however, she has a non selfish reason for being the way she is so I can very much forgive her. Between them all they create such a great triangle, Ebeneezer being pushed and pulled between them.
There is such imagination and creativity in the writing though, even though you can draw so many comparisons it is very much it’s own story, with both fantastical and depressing locations. Ebeneezer’s house is just wonderfully crafted with the slight touch of magic running through it walls. The Beast’s attic is wonderfully evocative if not a little terrifying at times. This for me is where the parent part is going to come out. So often I find that middle grade reads are really at the high end of the age range, there is a huge difference between an 8 year old and a 12 year old, not all kids like to be scared and not every MG book needs to be knocking on the door of YA. The Beast and the Bethany is perfect as the author pushes the story to just the right point, either then pulling away or describing what has happened with great skill and comedy – what could have been terrifying for younger readers, actually got it just right and for this Jack Meggitt-Phillips has my thanks.
Biba’s Review (aged 9)
I really enjoyed this book and how funny it was. I loved Ebeneezer and how joyful he was. I also like how Bethany always sold stuff for worms and not money! I liked the beast and his powers, but I wouldn’t want him in my house. I loved the extra mini stories at the end and how funny the whole book was. I rate this book a 5 Star and think it will be even better when it has all the pictures, (We received a proof copy with some of the artwork to come)
Thank you so much to The Write Reads and Egmont books for sending us a copy of this amazing book for review, The Beast and the Bethany is coming your way very soon!