The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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.


Song For This Book: Freedom by Tim Fain
Why? This is definitely a book for atmosphere over lyrics, and while I can’t find the full version of this song on Youtube, it is perfect for how I felt about the book.


I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

It’s not too often you come across a book that feels like an old-time fairy tale – think your classic ‘once upon a time’ stories – but it is a brand new story. It contains many of the elements you’d expect in a fairy tale – twin girls banished from their regular lives, a heroine who doesn’t realize her importance, and a whole lot of uncertainty – and sometimes you almost feel like you’ve heard the story before, though it’s a brand new book.

This book starts out telling the story of two twin girls who are banished from the village under the presumption that they are evil. Whether they are or not as children is hard to say, but they definitely turn that way with how they’re treated. They terrorize and steal the souls of the people who hurt them, leaving just the children alive. One of these children is Alys, who sees the soul eaters, who doesn’t run in fear. Shipped off to the next village, Alys wonders who she really is, one of the villagers or one of the soul eaters.

The Good Points of The Beast Is An Animal:

The writing in this book is fantastic. It creates an amazing atmosphere for the dark fairy tale, while never leaving you feel like you’re actually reading the book.

The characters in this book, both major and minor, are incredible. They’re so unique and interesting. The beliefs of the villagers and the ‘evil’ characters, and the other communities are weave together within each of them, adding to their conflicts and adventures. And Alys is just wonderful. Her conflict of good vs. evil is so realistic and so much fun to read about.

The big conflict in this book is good vs. evil, which has been done a million and one times already. But this book was very realistic about how it as approached, and it handled each person’s personal beliefs about good and evil really well. It’s nice to see characters who are not necessarily bad or good, but just fall somewhere on the spectrum.

There isn’t a ton of world building in this book, but we know what Alys and the twins know. And in a story like this, where it’s made clear that people don’t really leave their villages, that does work. You learn about the world and the people in it as the characters do. Some people will probably complain it isn’t enough, but I liked it.

The Downsides of The Beast Is An Animal:

Some parts of the story, especially as Alys was growing up, dragged. A lot of it was giving information, or developing characters, or something else important, but it seemed to take a while to get through.

It contains a lot of common elements from other fairy tales, where it could have done something really cool. Like the religious elements from the Defaid people. The author could have played a lot with this, but instead, played it safe and just rephrased Christianity. And it worked, but I feel like there was so much room to make it even more amazing.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a creepy, fun modern-day fairy tale with a fun world and atmosphere and lots of great characters. I do think there was room to make it even better, but I won’t complain about what we got. If you love fairy tales and creepy stories, you should definitely check out this book.

2 thoughts on “The Beast Is An Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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