by Peternelle van Arsdale
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL by Peternelle van Arsdale follows Alys, a young girl whose parents are killed by soul eaters. After losing her parents, Alys goes to live in a nearby town called Defaid, where the adults’ fear of both a creature known as The Beast and the soul eaters seems to have taken over their entire lives. As Alys grows up, she begins to see the danger in the town’s fear of the unknown, and takes it upon herself to redefine the line between good and evil.
In the beginning of the novel, Alys is seven, and readers stay with her until she is fifteen years old. Being able to see Alys’s growth throughout the novel created a personal connection between the main character and reader, and will allow readers to understand her on a deeper level. The entire novel is written like a dark fairy tale, with eerie rhymes about The Beast and the soul eaters woven throughout the story. Fear of these creatures leads the town-members to struggle to accept anybody who may be different from them, while Alys struggles to find the balance between finding herself and caring for others. While some may find that the plot seems slow to unfold, it will give readers time to reflect on the ways they deal with fear, and what it takes to overcome prejudice. Overall, van Arsdale created a dark fantasy world that readers will be left thinking about.