“The Beast is an animal
You’d better lock the Gate
Or when its dark, It comes for you
Then it will be too late
The Beast is an animal
Hear It scratch upon your door
It sucks your soul then licks the bowl
And sniffs around for more
The Beast is an animal
It has a pointy chin
It eats you while you sleep at night
Leaves nothing but your skin
Old Byd Nursery Rhyme” (Arsdale)
Are you ready for a dark faerie tale? The Beast Is An Animal is a story told to frighten young children in to behaving. It is familiar, yet dark, mysterious, and unique. Like a Grimm’s Faerie Tale, this one will give you a sense of nostalgia and creepiness all at once.
“- a story told to the children of Defaid at bedtime, ‘The wages of disobedience,” they were all told “are steep.'” (Arsdale, 124).
The Plot: Twin sisters, Benedicta and Angelica, and their mother, were abandoned in the woods by their father. Through years of emotional suffering, and the loss of their mother, they began to change in to something inhuman. The girls became known as the sin-eaters. When they decided to take revenge on their father, and the town that cast them out, they encounter Alys, a strange, fearless, girl who doesn’t sleep. Realizing that she is similar to them, they leave only her and the children alive in the village. Years after the children are taken in by another village, and given new families, strange occurrences begin happening to the village. Alys realizes that she is different, and after being approached by the beast, she is forced to not only learn what she is, but to make a decision to save those around her, or succumb to the darkness.
The Beast Is An Animal definitely made me think of a creepy faerie tale or bed time story. I loved the detail and imagery used to build the world and the story. I could feel the childhood nostalgia of the tale of the Beast and the sin eaters, and still found an underlying meaning and lesson in the story.
“That beauty could sometimes be ugly, and that you didn’t always find good and evil where you expected to-or where you’d been told to find them.” (Arsdale, 312).
Arsdale took such care in making the reader feel like the tale of the Beast and the sin eaters was real. I could feel the fear and beliefs of the villagers as they told their children the tale and as they experienced sightings of the sin eaters. The characters of the story were very intriguing to me as well.
Alys was such an interesting character. It was no surprise to find out what she was and to see her change and grow with the story. She was fearless, quirky, and curious.
“Alys should have been afraid of the wolves and the idea of a witch being married to a farmer, but she wasn’t. Alys, in fact, had never been afraid.” (Arsdale, 19).
The sin-eaters, Benedicta and Angelica, were excellent faerie tale antagonists. They were clearly different than the rest of the villagers, but did not deserve to be cast out. I almost feel like they were justified in their actions of revenge. They were intriguing and emotionally developed, and who could forget that they were identical mirror images of one another?
“The black hair on their heads curled in exactly the same way, but in opposite directions. The girls were mirror images of each other-identical, but not identical.” (Arsdale, 2-3).
Pawl, Beti, and Cian, were all outstanding supportive characters. They were kind and caring, with good morals. They contrasted so well to the over-religious, hateful villagers of Defaid. I enjoyed the relationship built between Pawl and Alys and between Alys and Cian. Pawl and Beti are the parents that Alys should have had.
The Beast Is An Animal was a quick, intriguing read. I enjoyed the dark faerie tale feel and, the almost, “Little Red Riding Hood” like imagery and atmosphere. This one deserves a solid 4 star rating.