We’re very excited to be on the tour stop for The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale! Before we share our review, how about we tell you a bit about the book!The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Simon and Schuster on February 28th 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, General, Horror, Legends, Myths, Fables, Other, Young Adult
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.
The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale is one of those books that after I finished, my first thought was “how am I going to review this?” I love the summary on this book as it draws on the creepy atmosphere that van Arsdale has created and the (beautiful) cover just brings it all to life.
The story begins with a separate story that sets the stage for the main character Alys. In the time where superstition rules people’s thoughts, a village needed a scapegoat to explain why their crops were failing and people were in danger. Upon noticing a star shaped mark on the farmer’s twin daughters, the villagers immediately informed the farmer they didn’t blame him – it was the work of a witch (his wife) and the offspring of the Beast (his daughters). All he had to do was banish his wife and daughters and everything would be fine. With that, the farmer took his wife and daughters to the woods believing they would be safe from the angry villagers there.
Eventually the mother and the girls are forgotten but over time, the girls become something else and that something else leads to the label “Soul Eaters”. To get back at their father and the village, they let the wolves attack their livestock and that isnt’ enough for them. The sisters decide to go back and seek out those that accused them and their mother of being something dangerous. They went back to make the adults of Gwenith (the village) pay and they left the children alone. This is really where Alys’ story begins.
Alys was an interesting character. She did not have an easy go of things once the adults in her village were taken by the Soul Eaters. As the only child to stay awake when the sisters visited the village, people were immediately wary of her. Add to this the fact that she tends to be in the wrong place at the wrong time fairly often and you can imagine what the villagers think about her. Alys doubts herself as well. She can’t explain why she is the way she is and she almost gives in to the things she is being accused of later in the book.
As she and the children of her village are taken in by the people of Defaid, a village down the road, they are not treated in a way one would expect. When the fear takes hold of the people in charge in Defaid, they immediately build a fence and force the children to guard and protect. When the children continue to go missing or die, they are just replaced with other Gwenith children. Clearly the Defaiders don’t really care about these children and are really just looking at them as an added line of defense against the Beast and the Soul Eaters. When Alys sees something she shouldn’t have, she is accused of being a witch and that’s when things take a turn for the worse for her. I honestly couldn’t believe what the women and Elders put this young girl through and when her adoptive father does what he can to save her, I finally felt like he cared about her.
The secondary characters were interesting. Pawl was one of my favorites. He had flaws but they were definitely outweighed (in my opinion) by the positive things he did for Alys and the children. Through Pawl we are introduced to Cian. The interactions he an Alys had were some of my favorite parts.
As Alys confronts the Soul Eaters and the Beast, she realizes what she wants out of her life…and it definitely isn’t the heartache of being a Soul Eater. When she stands up for what she really wants and ultimately helps the sisters escape the lives they have been living for so long, she also helps the people she cares about because they are no longer going to be threatened by them.
Overall I thought this was an interesting story. It was slow at times but that didn’t bother me overly much. There is quite a bit I am not mentioning in my review as I don’t really want to give away everything and to be honest, this one was tough for me to write about only because there are so many layers to this story that I can’t really cover it all. If you are looking for something different in YA, consider checking this book out.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!