A frozen girl
A haunted town
A deadly challenge
Which one is true?
In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.
Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.
Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire…
Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…
Author: Matt Wesolowski
Publisher: Orenda Books
Series: Six Stories #4
Release Date: 6/12/2019
My Chosen Format: Kindle
My Rating of ‘Beast’: 3 out of 5
Beast, the fourth book in the popular ‘Six Stories’ series follows the same track as the previous three. Our podcast host, Scott King, delves into cold cases and gets the accounts of six people who were closely related to either the victim, the perpetrators or the crime in general.
With Beast, Wesolowski follows in the same vein of playing upon the supernatural, as he has done so well in the previous books, whilst keeping everything fully grounded in down to earth realism.
Until now I have pretty much adored this series. Beast fell short for me for a couple of reasons. The first being that, after Changeling, Matt would have had to do something astounding to follow it. I feel that he pretty much played his trump card in book three. A shame, as that sort of realisation would have been a wonderful thing to eventually end the series on. Considering that he didn’t, I can only imagine what tantalising treat he has in store when he does decide to bring an end to Scott King’s podcast.
So yea, point one where Beast struggled was following Changeling. In my view, it’s the less popular younger sibling turning up for its first day of school in a town where the older brother is already everyone’s favourite.
The second point I feel that let Beast down was that, for the fourth time in a row, we are essentially forced to not like the people we would go into a book wanting to like. Making you feel sorry for certain people in one chapter, only to make you kind of hate them going forward is something this series has done to death. Less so in Hydra, admittedly, but that involved mental health so it was kind of a grey area where actions and responsibility was concerned. I’d just like to see something different other than the same plot formula. Considering Scott goes into these cases not certain of what actually happened, it seems odd that they all tend to be the same kind of love/hate case.
Ordinarily, in between chapters we are treated to a bit of a plotline revolving around Scott. In Beast, we weren’t. We were instead given a series of Youtube videos that played alongside the main narrative. Although I didn’t particularly enjoy them, what I did like about them was that they were essentially a vehicle to drive the plot forward. parts of the ‘Dead in Six Days’ challenge could be referenced throughout without the characters having to go into lengthy discussion about what happened, because we’d been given those as alternate chapters.
That’s not to say the bits with Scott don’t happen. They just feature as more of a main narrative plot point than a side story. He is by no means a shining light as far as plot reveals go. In this, he genuinely feels like what he has professed to be for so long: A podcaster trying to report the facts. The parts with him are spent getting to the bottom of things and it made for a nice change of pace.
One aspect I felt was more confusing than anything else was the world-building. Ergarth is displayed as a ‘town that has nothing’. Yet it has some of the big shopping chains famous throughout the UK (none of which appear in my town, I’d like to add, and my town is quite a large town). That plentiful nothingness along with the overall idea of ‘everyone watching and filming your every move so they can get likes on Youtube’ seems like it’s been laid on a bit thick. I ended the book with mental images of little old ladies with selfie sticks trying to get ‘Insta-Famous’. Ergarth just felt a little unrealistic/jumbled for me.
That feeling bled through into some of the characters. Their motivations were just at the believable side of strange but their actions most certainly were not. At one point, when the question of ‘why didn’t so and so just say what so and so said/did, they could have avoided punishment’ the answer was ‘they probably thought nobody would believe them’. That just sounded too far-fetched. Court rooms are full of people desperately pleading their innocence or their lesser involvement in a crime to avoid stricter punishment. The fact that most people in this book just ‘go with the flow’ feels a bit much.
I also felt that there weren’t really any grey areas where characters were concerned. They were either one thing or another.
That being said, as a whole, I enjoyed the message being sent in Beast. It teaches you to look deeper than what you see on the surface and shows the potential evils of the online world.
Deity is one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and, even with Beast not hitting the high notes for me, I’ve still pre-ordered it and can’t wait for release day.