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The citizens of Leola live in fear of the dense, dark forest that borders their town. Men disappear into the brush or are found dismembered as if they were attacked by a rabid Beast. But fear of a different kind also breeds in the citizens of Leola. For Valerie Mason, starvation is worse than potentially disappearing. With her former guardsman father drowning his troubles in spirits, it’s up to Valerie to keep them afloat by any means necessaryeven if it means breaking the law. Young Aubrey, the future Lord of Leola, fears that once he dies, the pages of his personal history will be left blank. When he hears of the dangers threatening his town, he knows the only way ensure that he lives on in the memory of his people is to venture into the forest and defend it himselfeven if it might cost him his life. Valerie and Young Aubrey must each breach the veil of trees again and again on their own quests. Will Valerie or Young Aubrey emerge victorious, or will they fall victim to their own demons and The Beast?
A legend in the making, The Beast is the debut novel from A. R. Davis who proves something of a whiz when it comes to storytelling. Beginning with a satisfyingly supernatural back story, she ably manages to avoid the failings of too many books in this genre where trials and triumphs are so predictable that it’s hard to really care about the characters. This certainly isn’t the case with Valerie and Young Aubrey, who are nuanced in a way that makes them instantly endearing. Yes, the overarching theme plays to the age old battle between good and evil, but there’s a sumptuous darkness to their realm which blurs the lines and adds much in the way of intrigue and suspense as destinies unfold. With an intricate plot and the judicious use of tropes it makes for a cracking tale, but it’s the underlying theme of redemption which ultimately draws the reader in as Davis leads her readers towards a surprisingly unpredictable, but well-crafted denouement.
A highly enjoyable read which bodes well for future releases from Davis, The Beast should find favour amongst fans of this ever popular genre and is certainly deserving of a place on your bookshelf. It is strongly recommended.
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