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 …
If I were to tell you that I was over the moon to be receiving the next installment of #SixStories it’d seriously be a huge understatement. I absolutely loved this original and compelling series and Beast was every bit as gripping as the previous books and absolutely lived up to my level of anticipation. Matt Weslowski has a remarkable and sustained talent for grabbing you by the lapels and pulling you right into the middle of each of these fascinating tales and I barely looked up until I’d turned the final page.
I love the way that Matt’s books give us a diverse range of voices so that we build up a steady accumulation of detail, just like you would in real life. I’m a real true-crime junkie and this definitely filled the gap that #Mindhunter and #TheClearing have left in my life. Scott is such a fantastic character that you really feel comes alive as he uncovers more and more details about this story. In the same way that I felt a strong connection with Adnan after reading Serial, I really felt like I’d come to know these characters by the final page and although I’m firmly committed to my ‘No Spoilers’ rule, I can’t wait to have a good chat with someone else who’s read Beast so that we can mull over it together and talk about what a fantastic creation it is.
It’s even the kind of book that is a physical pleasure to read – the strikingly beautiful design means that Beast appeals to all of your senses at once – it’s not just the story that made me love it so much but the book as an actual physical object. Just look how beautiful it is – I mean, these are the kind of book covers that you’d want to frame as a set, they’re so stunning. And the writing itself is just as memorable and striking as that cover…
Opening up a new ‘Episode’ of Six Stories also got me really excited and I really can’t emphasise how much I loved this dark and delicious read. The quotes on the cover are definitely not hyperbole as terrifying is not the word for some parts of this book. The fact that my new house is in the middle of a wood meant that some nights, I was actually considering sleeping with the light on as the part I’d just read had given me the absolute shivers.
Scott King is a fantastic character – even though on a conscious level I know that he is a device to keep the story going and to stitch all of the interviewees’ perspectives together I absolutely love the way that his questions coax the truth/s out of his interviewees. I am a huge fan of podcasts in general and particularly true crime and murder podcasts. Six Stories feels absolutely real in every way and I almost feel like I am ‘hearing’ the book that I’m reading like a podcast in the night – it really is so evocative – and several ‘episodes’ in, I’m no less fascinated to see where each tale will take me.
I also liked the way that like the very best True Crime podcasts – Weslowski allows space for our own feelings and responses. The young people of Ergarth’s actions are not tied up in a neat little package with the ‘why’ on top tied up with a pretty pink bow. There is enough room for us to ask ourselves questions about how we’d behave in similar circumstances and why that makes Beast such an involving and ultimately rewarding experience. I found myself genuinely being convinced to see things from a constantly shifting perspective as the novel bore me towards the conclusion and this was a rollercoaster ride that I definitely didn’t want to get off…
This book has a little bit of everything – mystery, social commentary, a ‘true crime’ feel, a fresh and captivating narrative structure, credible characters and a real sense of chill and menace.
As you can probably tell, I loved Beast every bit as much as Matt’s previous books and have urged almost everyone I know to buy it after reading it. It is a book that you’ll want to pass on to other people so that they’ll have had the same experience you did, reading it for the first time. If you haven’t read any Matt Weslowski before – First of all, why NOT? And secondly, make sure you check him out as he could be your favourite new writer. Buy Beast here so that you can find out how brilliant it is for yourself
I’d like to thank the lovely Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, it was such a privilege to spread the book love for a book that I loved reading so much. Karen from Orenda told me herself about hearing Matt’s pitch for the first time and yet again, her unerring feel for discovering unmissable writing talent hits the bullseye.
I bloody love this whole series and cannot recommend it enough. Get out there and experience it for yourself as soon as you can!
Writer On The Shelf
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- and 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. Changeling, book three in the series, was published in 2019.