Guest Review: The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Today we have a very special first-time-ever guest review by my 8-year-old daughter Alexis, who would like to share with you her thoughts on The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips with illustrations by Isabelle Follath.
The following is transcribed by mom, who also read the book (her own commentary to be included at the end):
Alexis’ Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Series: Stand Alone/Book 1
Publisher: Aladdin (December 8, 2020)
Length: 240 pages
So, this book I read is called The Beast and the Bethany, but the story is actually about a man named Ebenezer Tweezer who is 511 years old even though he doesn’t look a day over 20. He is able to stay so young because on the fifteenth floor of his gigantic house, there is this Beast—a big great grey blob with three black eyes, two tongues, and a huge mouth with lots of teeth. Whenever Ebenezer brings him very rare items to eat, like the world’s last dodo, the Beast would vomit out a youth potion for him to drink.
Then, one day, the Beast asks Ebenezer to bring him a human child to eat, because he’s never had one before. Ebenezer doesn’t want to, but he loves being young, handsome and alive more, so he is forced to do what the Beast says. First, he goes to the zoo to try to steal a kid there, but they screamed “Stranger danger!” and their parents got Ebenezer thrown out and a lifetime ban. So, then he tries to go to the orphanage to find the worst behaved kid to feed to the Beast. And that is how he meets Bethany, a rotten kid who would stick worms up other kids’ noses.
After a while though, Ebenezer becomes friends with Bethany and doesn’t really want to feed her to the Beast anymore, but if he doesn’t, that means he also won’t get his youth potion and he will die.
This was one of the best books I have ever read. It has a lot of action, because the characters come up with lots of interesting ways to solve their problems. The story is also very funny. There are a lot of jokes and I laughed a lot. One of my favorite parts was when Bethany made a huge mess out of Ebenezer’s house to make him angry, but he would just ignore her. Another funny part was the Beast, when he would try to play tricks. But he was also very mean and scary. The reason why I only give this book a 4.5 and not 5 stars is because there were also some sad parts.
My favorite character was Bethany, because I liked her personality. She wasn’t too bitter or too sweet, she was in the middle, kind of like me. Also, I loved how she stood up to the Beast even though he did some horrible things to her. At the beginning, I thought Ebenezer was kind of scary, feeding live things to the Beast. But then in the end he wasn’t that bad, and I kind of felt safer about him. He was a way better person at the end.
You should read this book because it’s really great, and it’s not that long and you can read it in a day. The pictures in it were really funny, and my favorite one was when Bethany was whacking Ebenezer’s face with a pillow because he said something to her that made her really angry (but I can’t tell you what it was, you have to read the book first). I think there will be a book two because there was a kind of to-be-continued ending. And what happened made me really nervous! But if there is another book, I would want to read it.
And there you have it! I have to say my daughter did take to this book in a way I’ve rarely seen, and even though the suggested age is 9-13, her reading and maturity levels made her the perfect target audience (of course, the fact that she likes fantasy and has a slightly twisted sense of humor also helped a lot). The writing was filled with rich detail to help kids remember, as well as the jokes that could also be appreciated by children and adults alike, as evidenced by the many chuckles the story elicited from me. No matter your age, you’ll find yourself completely enchanted and delighted by this wildly imaginative tale, hilarious and heartwarming in equal measure.
I was also pleased to find the blurb describing the book as “Lemony Snicket meets Roald Dahl” surprisingly accurate. It certainly does share many of the common themes and elements of my own childhood dark fantasy favorites like The Witches or The BFG, written in a similar captivating and crowd-pleasing style. If you have a child in your life who has a vivid imagination and loves to read, I would definitely recommend to them The Beast and the Bethany—they will be sure to have a blast with it.