Review: ‘Beast’ Matt Wesolowski

A frozen girl
A haunted town
A deadly challenge
Six Stories
Which one is true?

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…

Beast is fantastic. It’s a Matt Wesolowski novel, duh. Need I say more?

Well, yes, I do need to say more. I’m sure that there are some people reading this who haven’t yet read any of the books in the Six Stories series and I want to convince these people that this series is a must for all thriller fans.

There are many things like I like about the Six Stories series, one of them being that nothing in any of the books is ever as it seems. In the opening pages of Beast, we learn that up and coming vlogger Elizabeth Barton was found dead in a derelict tower, having been murdered by three local men. The case against the men seems pretty cut and dried; they were jealous of her online fame and decided to put a permanent end to her burgeoning internet career.

This is a Six Stories novel, though. Of course there’s more to the case than that.

Me waiting for the drama and scandal to kick in.

For me, a great thriller is one that keeps you on your toes, one that keeps you guessing right up until the very end, and this is exactly what Beast does. It wasn’t until the end of Scott’s fifth interview that I began to have a true inkling of what was going on. I’ve read some books in which the so-called plot twist simply serves to shock and makes zero sense, but this isn’t the case with Beast. I came to the part with the big reveal and my first thought was “Of course! How did I not work that out?” Going back through the novel, I realised that the clues were all there, hidden amongst the words of Scott’s interviewees. I just needed to collect them and piece them together like a puzzle.

Me when it clicked.

I also need to mention that I love the threads of urban myth running through each of the Six Stories novels. Of course, the facts of Elizabeth’s death become blurred with local vampire legend, but I also liked the nod towards the Bella in the Wych Elm story with the graffiti on the Bartons’ house.

Beast is a haunting, on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller and it gets five stars from me.

Want to read Beast? Head on over to Hive to buy your copy, or order it through your local bookstore.

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