A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this “achingly poetic” (Kirkus Reviews) and deeply satisfying tale.
Alys was seven the first time she saw the soul eaters.
These soul eaters are twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly grew into something not quite human. And they feed off of human souls. When her village was attacked, Alys was spared and sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think he 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.
Alys was only seven when soul eaters killed the adults in the village of Gwenith. She was then taken to nearby Defaid, where she made a life with new parents. It isn't much of a life, though: when soul eaters attack Defaid, a "great wooden Gate" is built around the village, and the children of Gwenith must guard the Gate through the night. Theirs is a colorless existence, and Alys feels the pull of the dark "fforest" surrounding the village, and the beast that lives there. From the sorrowful opening that introduces the soul eaters, van Arsdale's lyrical debut spans about eight years, revealing the growing darkness Alys feels inside and the weight of the secret she carries. When Alys is accused of a terrible crime, she's forced to leave the village and confront her destiny. Atmospheric and immersive, van Arsdale's eerie fantasy keeps its focus on Alys's struggle to reconcile who she is with what she wants to be as it builds toward a poignant and satisfying conclusion. Ages 14 up.
A pointless main character
A pointless main character. In the end, she didn't even do anything.
The most interesting scenes are with the evil sisters, who rarely make an appearance.
Even the title character, The Beast, which really is an animal, doesn't even do anything either.
The antagonist, the two evil sisters, end up just killing each other. The story would have been so much better if it just followed the two soul eating sisters, and the one sisters desire to stop their soul eating ways. Which is ultimately the reason for their very non-climactic confrontation at the end. Like I said, Alys, the main character, and The Beast, the title character, served no purpose.
Also, there's a complete lack of character development.