The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips

Illustrated by Isabelle Follath.

Published by Egmont, 2020.

There’s definitely more than a hint of Dorian Gray about Ebenezer Tweezer, a 512-year-old man who doesn’t look a day over 20. However, instead of a portrait in the attic, there’s a beast. A beast with a supply of anti-ageing potions.

In order to get his hands on this elixir of life, Ebenezer must feed the beast. Unfortunately, the beast has rather exotic tastes and his meal requests have become more and more outrageous as the years have gone by. And now he wants to eat a child! Ebenezer’s desire for eternal youth and glossy hair far outweighs any misgivings he may have about this and so he adopts Bethany from the local orphanage.

Bethany is a thoroughly unpleasant child; she steals, is extremely rude and bullies other children. Ebenezer has no qualms about offering her to the beast. However, the beast is not convinced. He thinks Bethany too bony and instructs Ebenezer to fatten her up. In the ensuing days, Bethany shows another side to her character and Ebenezer begins to question his decision.

I absolutely loved the characters in The Beast and the Bethany! Bethany is a deliciously naughty child – there’s a vicarious thrill to be had watching her smear chocolate cake over priceless works of art, and leave toads and whoopee cushions in Ebenezer’s bed. Throw into the mix an unscrupulous and unloving orphanage director, and a money-obsessed bird shop owner and you’ve a cast of colourful characters who entertain and delight.

While the tone of the book is mostly humorous, the development of the friendship between Bethany and Ebenezer is really nicely done – poignant without being saccharine. There’s also a positive message about living your best life and making the most of the time you do have.

The Beast and the Bethany is a riot of fun. It’s the first in the series and I’m excited about Bethany and Ebenezer’s next adventures.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Egmont and The Write Reads for sending me this book to review.

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