Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale {review}

The Beast Is An Animal 
by Peternelle van Arsdale
♦publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
♦release date: February 28th, 2017
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Alys was seven the first time she saw the soul eaters. Twin sisters, they radiated an energy that excited Alys. Through them she felt the wildness of the forest, and The Beast within it. Too late, she learned of their power to destroy.

By the time she is fifteen, Alys knows too much about both the lure and the danger of the soul eaters. She lives in a world of adults who are terrified of their power, and who cower behind high walls and grim rules. Fear of the soul eaters—and of The Beast—rules their lives. Even more, they fear the ways in which The Beast may lurk among them—and within a girl like Alys.

For Alys has a connection to the soul eaters, and The Beast. And she hides a truth about herself that she can reveal to no one, for fear she will be called a witch. As the threat posed by the soul eaters grows, Alys must undertake a journey through the wild danger of the fforest. But the greatest danger is not outside her. Alys’s secret about who—and what—she is terrifies her most of all. And in order to save her world, she must also risk losing herself.

Review: I'm not even sure how to begin to explain this incredibly bizarre book. In a quiet moment at work, I pulled up the Amazon preview of The Beast is an Animal, and from page one I was completely drawn in. I went straight home and grabbed it off my shelf and read for hours. The writing was spine-tingling and eerily atmospheric. I zoomed through the first 2/3s, but in that last third, the pacing slows a bit as it creeps towards an increasingly bizarre ending.

From beginning to end, this feels like a dark and twisted fairy tale. It begins telling how the soul eaters came to be and how they came to attack the village where Alys lived. Alys is 7 when we meet her and from the beginning, we see she has a strange and special connection with both the soul eaters and the beast. As she grows, it starts to upset and consumer her more and more, but she also comes to understand it more. There's a huge cast of interesting characters that come in and out of Alys's life, but my favorites were Paul and Mother and Father (her adopted parents. There's a tiny bit of love story, which was sweet and downplayed, and its her love for Cian and the other important people in her life that saves Alys from completely losing herself.

It's hard to pinpoint what it all meant, or how it will be interpreted by different readers. It won't be for everyone, this much I know. I found myself completely intrigued, even when the pacing slowed a bit and it went from weird to weirder (even for my tastes lol)--Alys's journey was just one I found fascinating. As best as I can say, The Beast is an Animal is about good and evil and how claiming to be good and righteous doesn't always make it so---and inversely, how believing something is bad also doesn't make it so. It's how pain can drive anyone to lose themselves if they're not careful. It's about the good and bad in everything and the need for balance...and for love.  I think. ;)  This was definitely a unique one that I'm sure will leave readers with that "what just happened??" feeling---but definitely worth venturing into to see if you find it as alluring and bizarrely beautiful as I did.   


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. 


Purchase the book:   
Indiebound   •   BookDepository   •   Amazon


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