Author: Peternelle van Arsdale
Genre: Young Adult | Mythology | Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
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 (goodreads).
The Beast is an Animal is a haunting novel that never peaks.
Plot: I can only describe the writing in The Beast is an Animal as eerie and gothic. The first chapter introduced the soul eaters and their origin story and I was hooked by how tragic their lives seemed. My initial glee dissipated and The Beast is an Animal became a monotonous read. There were a few chapters that highlighted the soul eaters, but the true main character was Alys who saw the soul eater wreck havoc on her village. Other than the initial carnage in the first chapter, nothing happened in The Beast is an Animal and all of the action was passive rather than active.
Characters: The Beast is an Animal followed Alys from the age of seven until her teenage years and I found it impossible to connect with her. It may have been the writing, but Alys didn't come off as having any emotions or having undergone any particular growth. I didn't care about her or the people she encountered, the most interesting characters were the soul eaters.
Worldbuilding: The writing style worked to the world's advantage - it was easy to imagine a world where witches were stoned and magic was feared. The Beast is an Animal had the air of puritan United States, there were even religious communities that wore all black and referred to each other as "brother" and "sister."
Short N Sweet: The Beast is an Animal started off strong and had an interesting premise, but I lost interest in the bland characters and passive story-telling.