Well, this was unexpectedly fun!
In The Beast and the Bethany, Ebenezer Tweezer has lived over 500 years, thanks to the help of the beast that dwells in his attic. He brings it food, and it gives him a life-extending elixir of youth. But over the years, the beast has grown more demanding, and now is asking for a child to eat in exchange for the next bottle of elixir. Ebenezer, terrified of dying, does what the beast asks—until he realizes the girl he’s chosen to be eaten, Bethany, isn’t actually that bad to be around. He has to grapple with what it means to have a real friendship, and if it is worth more than his own selfish desires.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did, but wow this is charmingly odd. It reminds me of Lemony Snicket!
Ebenezer is a self-centered jerk at the beginning, and Bethany is a mischievous force of chaos, but the way their relationship develops is so endearing and funny. Their banter is excellent. I also liked the bird-keeper, and even the beast was fun (though he’s without a doubt the antagonist, and a formidable one).
The theme of friendship, and how finding true connection with others can make you a better person, was well written and sweet. The character development was also well done, and as the plot progressed and the beast’s deadline approached, it was nice to see how both Ebenezer and Bethany were changing. This isn’t the deepest, most complex plot, but the lesson it teaches and the portrayal of the core characters is delightful.
In the end, The Beast and the Bethany was a cute, whimsical, wacky story. It features a great friendship, funny shenanigans, and a tale about friendship that makes you smile. The narrative voice is quirky and great, and the illustrations by Isabelle Follath are excellent! The ending leaves several things open ended, and I have to admit, I’m intrigued to see what will happen next (whenever book two arrives).
Overall rating: 8.8/10