Beast by Matt Wesolowski – Review.

About The Book

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…

My Review

Beast is the fourth book in the Six Stories series. It could be read as a standalone but I would recommend that you at least read book three – Changeling before reading this. There are no spoilers but you would gain more by knowing what happened to Scott in his past.

I do like a novel about vampires and the legend of the ‘Ergath Vampire’ is a chilling one. Especially when it coincides with the very cold weather that the region was experiencing, the nickname the ‘Beast From The East’ has more than one meaning in this novel.

Lizzie B is the victim, if this was real life she isn’t somebody I would follow on social media, I don’t have time for self obsessed people who thrive on likes across their various channels. I definitely don’t understand the current fascination with unboxing videos on YouTube, but many do judging by how popular they are. Each to their own.

But Lizzie isn’t as liked or as popular as we are led to believe, even though she does appear to have many followers. The author shows how she is an expert in manipulation but amongst her supposed fans are some who have a grudge over events that happened before she became an internet celebrity.

There are parts of this novel that are unsettling. The control of social media, how fake and shallow it is. How it can be used to bully and create unrest. And how easy it is to hide behind a keyboard. There was also a description of events that occurred in an abattoir that could very easily have made me go vegetarian.

I love the way Scott King uncovers the reasons why Lizzie had to die. He never seems to judge, and he doesn’t do it to solve a crime. He just wants to understand and see how those connected feel. The reader isn’t expected to feel sympathy for either the victim or the culprits, just understand why it happened.

The Six Stories series has been added to with originality and style. I would love to see it televised and see who would be cast in some fantastic roles.

My Top Ten Books of 2019

The time has come again to face an impossible task of narrowing the 117 books I have read into a top ten list. As always it was difficult to do but I have managed and I will list them in no particular order. Apart from my favourite book of the year which I will reveal at the end. You can see my review for each book by clicking on the title.

Expectation by Anna Hope.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman.

The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

Red Snow by Will Dean

From The City, From The Plough by Alexander Baron

On My Life by Angela Clarke

The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

The Girl At The Window by Rowan Coleman

My Book of 2019

Turbulent Wake by Paul. E Hardisty

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

In November 2014 Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and sister to death with a hammer. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
I was thrilled when I heard that there would be a follow-up novel to the brilliant Six Stories which I enjoyed immensely.
The author has followed the same format, that of a series of six interviews. One with Arla and the others with friends she knew from school and some that she had met on holiday. A few of them requested anonymity.
It takes place in NW England. Instantly I noticed the ‘accent’ was extremely accurate. It’s not something I see often. It was evident throughout the whole book and is one of the reasons that I would like to listen to the audio book.
Arla admits her guilt but her reasoning is chilling. Especially when all of the people interviewed as well as Scott are receiving threats if they don’t distance themselves from Arla. Scott is also being ‘trolled’ on his social media accounts and he makes his settings private but refuses to stop the series. The severity of the threats increase as the novel progresses.
This book had me seeing and hearing things that could not have been there. I read the majority of it on a long distance flight, where it should be impossible to see ‘black-eyed children’ through the window, and by kindle light in a pitch black hotel room. This book, however has the power to terrify where ever you read it. It is deeply unsettling.
It was just before starting the book that I looked up ‘ black-eyed children’ on the internet. I had never heard of them before, and the one photograph that I saw stopped me looking closer.
A brilliant and scary follow-up that I would love to see dramatised.

Hydra blog poster 2018 FINAL

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating.

My Review

I decided to read Six Stories in the way that it was written, one podcast daily. It gave me a chance to digest what I learned and to recover from the increasing eeriness.
I have never been to Northumberland, but have seen various fells in Cumbria. I have also stayed in centres just like the one described in the book when I was at school. The way that everything is described is all very similar. Isolated but beautiful with a sense of menace when it is nighttime and  the level of darkness that you would only ever experience on a fell.
Each of the six podcasts describe the events surrounding Tom from people who he connected with at the time. His ‘friends’, their guide and a local man who was treated maliciously and mercilessly by Tom and a few of the others. Tom was not a nice person, there was nobody who escaped his mind games and viciousness. Scott King coaxes them all into reliving the way that he was with them and this wasn’t welcomed.
Nana Wrack and the other apparitions seen were very convincing. I have always been wary of opening curtains and seeing somebody stood on the other side of the window. And the descriptions here brought back memories that I can laugh about now but had me fearful when I was a teenager.
It is a difficult book to read without giving away too much but if you enjoy podcasts, serialised books with a high level of spookiness you won’t be disappointed. It’s also fantastic storytelling in a unique style.

You can buy the book at  amazon or  Waterstones

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.

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