The world of middle-grade fantasy fiction must be charming indeed, if Jack Meggitt-Phillips’ debut is anything to judge by.
The Beast and the Bethany is the charming story of 511-year-old Ebeneezer Tweezer, the most selfish man in all the world; and of the orphan Bethany, the naughtiest kid in all her orphanage. What connects these two? One is intent on feeding a monster; the other is destined to be the monster’s snack.
This is a story of personal growth; though one has lived half a millennium and the other hardly eleven years, Ebeneezer and Bethany have led a similar existence — one of survival rather than living. For Ebeneezer, survival has become a goal in of itself; for Bethany, it’s a necessity, to hide the vulnerabilities of a lost young girl. As you might imagine, neither one likes the other much, at first; but both find they’ve a lot to learn.
And the Beast? What a ghastly villain! And what an appetite it has! I’m not one to cannibal-shame, but eating a Bethany?! That’s just severe, that is. Everything else, I could look past — the puking, the incurable appetite for new experiences, the frankly ridiculous amount of puking, and of course, the admirable appetite of a growing boy–blob, I meant blob.
This is an entertaining book; I chuckled well more than once, downright laughed a couple of times. Levity is key in a good middle-grade book about monsters eating children, but no less so than moments of emotional release — and The Beast and the Bethany delivers just such excellence.
I disliked the sequel-bating at the end, however – what is this drive to extend perfectly charming stories, anyway?!
All in all, an excellent debut on the part of Jack Meggitt-Phillips – if you have a child, or are interested in children’s literature, this might very well make a fantastic gift. The illustration are beyond charming, themselves, and excuse the purchase of this book on their own!
Thank you to Egmont and TheWriteReads for offering me an Advanced Review Copy as part of the title’s blog tour.