Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories…
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…
Hi and welcome to my review of Beast! First of all, massive thanks to Karen Sullivan @ Orenda Books for sending me a Christmas package, including this gorgeous red paperback! I am a huge fan of the Six Stories series in audiobook format, I always get the eBook and then try to tough it out until the audiobook becomes available but having received this beastly beauty I couldn’t resist and dove right in! Still, I can’t wait for the audiobook to come out in February to revisit Ergarth and its residents. Having listened to all previous Six Stories novels, I have now noticed that I automatically hear Scott King’s voice (or rather his narrator’s) in my head when reading his passages, and my mind kind of auto-filled in some of the other voices from the previous books, so I’m actually really eager to find out if I got them right.
I’m pretty sure the format is fairly well known by now, but for those of you who are new to the series: Six Stories is a fictional podcast hosted and created by Scott King. Beast is Scott King’s fourth outing, and I’m here to tell you: I’m ready for however many more Matt Wesolowski can come up with! As always, Scott King talks to six people who each tell him (and us) their story, their side of the events. The case at hand seems pretty cut and dried, rather black and white, a girl is dead and her killers are in prison, but each story adds more and more shades of grey, until the sixth and final episode of the podcast is done and dusted and you’re some place completely different than where you started out, feeling exhilarated and bereft in equal measure and more than a little flabbergasted.
If you want to read Beast because you have a thing for vampires or whatever, but you haven’t read Six Stories, Hydra or Changeling, go right ahead! It can be read as a standalone, there’s some hinting at a reveal in Changeling, but there are no actual spoilers to ruin the fun should you want to go back to any of the previous three novels. No judgement of any kind, but you really REALLY should!
As usual there’s a supernatural element, in Beast it’s a vampire. The little town of Ergarth has its own vampire legend and everybody knows somebody who knows somebody else whose cousin / babysitter / granny has had a chance encounter with said vampire. Legend has it this vampire is female and originally from Siberia, so with the ‘Beast from the East’ snow storms and everything it’s not that difficult to imagine that the Ergarth vampire is back with a vengeance. To that backdrop, Ergath vlogger Lizzie B is entering the Dead in Six Days Challenge: the new internet craze where you get a challenge from an unknown phone number, supposedly the vampire’s, and you take the challenge, film it and post it online. Afterwards you get a next challenge which you’re supposed to set to someone else, but Lizzie has decided to carry out all six challenges herself, after which she’ll meet the vampire and die! Well not really. Except that she does die. She’s found naked and frozen to death in the infamous Ergath ‘Vampire Tower’. The vampire? A prank gone wrong? Things are never quite what they seem in Six Stories but if anyone can get to the bottom of it, it’s Scott King.
In whatever format, this is a fantastic series, I always go in with the highest expectations and still each new novel manages exceed them. Novel after novel, Matt Wesolowski succeeds in grabbing my attention from the very first page and keeping me at the edge of my seat throughout. Like its predecessors, Beast got under my skin, it set its claws into me and hunkered down. With the audiobooks I kept making up chores to do so I could keep listening. This Beast paperback had the opposite effect: I went out of my way to escape any kind of adulting, I wanted the world and everyone in it to leave me alone with the Beast from
the East Orenda Books.
Beast is a flawless thriller but once again Matt Wesolowski does not hesitate to turn the spotlight on human flaws: the need for attention, to be liked and to get likes, the total disregard for other people’s feelings, and snowball effect that may have.
Creepy, edgy and dark, Beast is another must-read and a fabulous addition to your Orenda collection and/or any decent thriller collection!
Beast is out now in eBook or in paperback / audiobook in February. Stay tuned for the blog tour starting on the first of February, and for my stop on the 12th, when I’ll be sharing an excerpt.