Overall Score: 7/10
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Horror
Publisher: Margaret K. Elderberry Books
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Source: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Book Summary (From GoodReads)
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.
Every once in a while, I read a book and I can’t figure out if I liked it or not. The Beast Is an Animal was one of those books. It was dark, atmospheric, and somehow utterly enchanting.
I waited a few days after reading it to write this review in order to let it sink in. The story has a very definite fairytale feeling to it, where fantastic things happen but have little to no explanation as to how they happen. I tend to prefer very strong world-building and this book had very little. The reader is never given answers to some important questions (such as what is the Beast, how does soul-eating work, what sort of magic is there in the world). The answers that are given are vague. However, while reading, I still found myself able to immerse myself in the world.
Besides Alys, her second mother was the only character who truly stood out to me. After she originally displayed her healing magic, she fades from view until a certain point and the idea of magic is mostly lost. While the distance was perhaps meant to convey the growing distance between the two different peoples, I wished I could have gotten to know her better. As for Alys herself, I liked her as a protagonist. There was one interaction she had with Cian toward the end of the book that I absolutely loved (and which helped me understand the book better).
If you read this story, don’t expect an action-filled, fully fleshed-out world. Rather, approach it as you would a fairytale and revel in the beautifully created atmosphere. The Beast Is an Animal is a very unique book and I think, if they approach it with the proper expectations, that many readers will enjoy it.