Tuesday 4 February 2020

Beast (Six Stories #4) - Matt Wesolowski

Continuing the unique, explosive Six Stories series, based around six podcasts comes 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…

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, and the tragic and chilling legend of the Ergarth Vampire… 

What did I think?

Oh my word, I LOVED THIS BOOK!  Yes, I'm shouting; I'd shout it from the rooftops if I wasn't afraid of ladders.  I have bought the previous books in the Six Stories series but prior to reading Beast, book 4, I had only read Six Stories, book 1.  You can definitely read Beast as a standalone but I know if this is your first introduction to Six Stories, you will definitely want more!  Unlike Oliver Twist, you can have more as you can pick up the previous books in the series: Six Stories, Hydra and Changeling.

Who will ever forget the 'Beast from the East'?  That horrific cold snap in 2018 that saw much of Britain buried in heavy snow.  Well, the village of Ergarth in Northumberland had already heard of the 'Beast from the East' but in another format: that of legendary vampire Vladlena who was brought from Siberia during the Crimean War and imprisoned in the Tankerville Tower in Ergarth.  The people of Ergarth don't talk about this legend and give the ruined tower a wide berth.

Local social media star, Elizabeth Barton, jumps at the chance to increase her followers by taking part in the Dead in Six Days challenge during the snowy winter of 2018.  Unfortunately for Elizabeth, the challenge culminates in her death in Ergarth's Vampire Tower and three local young men are tried and convicted of her murder.  Scott King chooses Elizabeth's story for his latest podcast when some graffiti in the town causes him to question what exactly happened to Elizabeth.  Six people are interviewed over six podcast episodes as Scott delves into the events leading up to Elizabeth's death.

Social media plays a huge part in Beast.  It just shows how much smoke and mirrors goes on in order to get the most 'likes' and 'follows'.  For some people, being popular is the only aspiration they have but it must be so tiresome to always put on a show.  As the interviews go on we see a completely different side to Elizabeth than the one painted on her social media.  I wondered who the real Elizabeth was and questioned whether she would even know the answer to that herself.  Her family certainly see different versions of her and it shows how often we only see what we want to see.

Beast is a total page-turner; I couldn't read it fast enough.  I'm actually glad I still have books 2 and 3 left to read so I can get another Scott King podcast hit as I really can't get enough of this awesome series.  Told via a series of podcasts, Beast is a mystery with a hint of the supernatural; it's spine-chilling, compelling and completely impossible to put down.  Keep 'em coming, Matt!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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About the author:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

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