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The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale (from a Two Thumbs Up reviewer)

by McNally Robinson - Monday, Mar 06, 2017 at 4:39pm

The Beast is an Animal is a dark, yet perfectly charming story. It reads like a fairytale, and it is so atmospheric, you get the feeling that the book is slowly sucking you into its pages. Besides the fact that her name is super cool, Peternelle van Arsdale's writing style is equally just as good. Each seamlessly flows from one to another, creating a world consisting of mad men, beasts, and soul eaters that will continue to haunt you even after finishing.

The Beast is an Animal is, as mentioned, every bit a fairytale. Our main protagonist, Alys, was only six years old when twin soul eaters attacked her village and killed everyone over the age of sixteen. Now under the protection of a neighbouring village, Alys soon discovers that she is destined to end the soul eaters' hunger. But that's not all. There is the mystery of the Beast that lurks around the forest, the danger of the villagers sentencing Alys to death for who she really is, and Alys' own struggle in accepting her true identity. As a character, Alys is a heroine that everyone can root for. Though she is a chosen one, she is far from a "special snowflake." Alys takes matters into her own hands and doesn't need a knight in shining armor to rescue her. The rest of the characters are not as developed, but it was so nice to read about their relationship with Alys. There is a subtle romance in this book, but it occurs later in the story and doesn't take centre stage. '

I also love how van Arsdale sneaks some "food for thought" into this book. Most of it is rather relevant to our own situation: A wall is built around Alys' village to prevent the soul eaters from getting in; the children from Alys' old village, including herself, are discriminated against; the High Elders, the heads of the village, use religion and fear to keep the villagers in submission; villagers are wrongfully acused in order to keep their good name. 

I'm obsessed with this book, if you can't already tell. However, I understand that this book can feel slow and even boring to some. Despite its creepiness and atmospheric nature, the plot feels very tame. There are no heart throbbing moments or awesome battlescenes, and one might even say that it is not scary enough. In the end, everything works out and we have our good old satisfactory fairtyale ending. I don't have a problem with that at all because I was too invested in Alys' story.

If none of the mentioned problems above bother you, and/or you happen to be interested in any of the facts mentioned above, read this book. What are the chances of you finding a fantastic fairytale read these days? 5/5 stars. 

- Phuong, a Two Thumbs Up reviewer

Categories: Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Two Thumbs Up

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The Beast Is an Animal

- Young adult hardcover

by Peternel Van Arsdale - $23.99 - Add to Cart

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 neighbouring 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.