The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale was offered to me as a download on my laptop for an exclusive study on how readers engage with books, thanks to Simon and Schuster and Jellybooks, Ltd!
The story opens with twin girls born to a mother and father living on a farm on the outskirts of a village. These girls are the mirror image of each other, from the way their hair curls to the birthmarks on their calves. The oldest girl has her features on the left, while the two minutes younger twin has her features on the right side. The wife and girls are banished because of the superstitious villagers who blame the mother and daughters for the lack of rain. The girls grow up, mostly alone because their mother dies when they are still quite young, and become wild, vengeful soul eaters. Chapter one introduces Alys. The twins, Benedicta and Angelica, talk to Alys and tell her to sleep. The next thing Alys knows is that she’s waking up in a grassy field. A red headed older man, Pawl (a trader), gives Alys a ride home. She has a foreboding feeling when she gets home, so Pawl stays with her. He looks for her parents and finds them dead. They visit other homes in the village and all of the parents are dead. Pawl finds homes for the children in a neighboring village. The Elders rule this village with strict beliefs and decide to build a gate around the homes. The children who survived the soul eaters, when their parents didn’t, are sent to guard the gate and livestock at night, since they are “protected”. Alys and Delwyn survive the night, but Delwyn’s brothers do not. Alys is treated differently and suspected of being a witch and is punished. She leaves the village and wanders in the wilderness. The Beast finds her and gives her a mission to find the soul eaters. The fantasy is reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials because of the persecution. I rate The Beast is an Animal 4 stars, for the creative and dark world brought to life by Peternelle van Arsdale!