The Beast and the Bethany

Ebenezer Tweezer will do anything to prolong his already extended life by providing difficult-to-get meals for the horrible creature that is living in his attic. In exchange, the Beast vomits up things such as a baby grand piano and a magical elixir. But the Beast is bored with his menu and wants something more interesting to eat. Things don’t quite go as planned when Ebenezer brings feisty orphan Bethany home for dinner.

Bethany starts out as a bully and prankster, but blossoms under Ebenezer’s care, and he in turn is influenced by her to change his wicked ways. The point of view switches between them, which draws the reader onwards through the plot twists and turns.

I reviewed an uncorrected proof, so some of Isabelle Follath’s illustrations were not yet in place. Her illustrations are fun and slightly gothic in a contemporary setting. The slime green book edges add to the gross factor, which kids will love.

Jack Meggitt-Phillips’s writing reminds me of some classic writers: Edith Nesbit’s Psammead but bad to the bone, Dickensian characters such as Miss Fizzlewick, and a somewhat Roald Dahl-esque style with an independent strong-willed child against a cast of outrageous, selfish, and often idiotic adults. The only hiccup was the final “The Beast and the Author” section, which pulled me out of the story while I was still savouring the conclusion.

The Beast and the Bethany is a satisfying mix of mildly scary, silly, rude, gross, and heart-warming that kids will enjoy. 10-12, 12-14

A. Colleen Jones