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…
Having listened to the original six stories, Hydra and Changeling, I thought I would read this book to see if it changed the experience. It didn’t. It was equally as brilliant.
Beast follows the same structure as the ones that came before; except, post-Changeling, Scott King doesn’t feel like he has to hide behind a mask. I liked that his personal story was hinted at, but didn’t become indulgent.
Beast explores the murder of Lizzie B and we hear six different stories, from six different people’s POV, about the case. I loved how the story unfolds like a map, follows paths that become blocked and having to double back. Matt’s storytelling is absolutely fantastic. The language he uses, the inner monologues, the thinking of how to proceed with the interviews are so clever. It really elevated the way the story is told.
The hints of supernatural involvement, much like Changeling, freaked the life out of me! Gone are the tap taps. In are fangs, eternal coldness and sightings of things that should not be. Again, it never takes over the story and only serves to add another dimension.
As well as a riveting story, it is also a bit of a societal commentary. Set in a down and out town, forgotten by the powers that be down south, it features a cast of characters affected by cuts, lack of care and the rise of technology. Matt has nailed the ridiculousness of the twenty first century, where a like on a webpage has become more important than real life love.
I raced through this book. The story, the to and fro of trying to get to the bottom of the case, the unreliability of the interviewees all made this a fantastic book. I’m so glad that the original six stories became a series, and look forward to many more.
Until next time.
I’ve been Chris McDonald.
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.