The Beast and the Bethany
by Jack Meggitt-Phillips ill by Isabelle Follath
Ebenezer Tweezer, a young man with golden hair and a mansion filled with everything he desires, has a secret. In reality he is almost 512 years old. He owes his youth, stunning art collection, and grand piano to a hideous monster who lives in the top floor of a mansion. In this reimagining of the classic Faustian bargain, Ebenezer must regularly feed the monster in exchange for a potion that grants him eternal youth.
The beast's appetite has increased over time. Where once a tasty morsel satisfied, sacrificial offerings are currently demanded. First it was small animals but now the beast wants a child. Tweezer realizes that he is crossing into territory that strains his sense of morality. He rationalizes that if he can find a truly despicable youngster the world will be rid of one nasty human. That's not so bad, is it?
His search for a suitable child eventually leads him to an orphanage run by the loathsome Miss Fizzlewick. There he meets Bethany, an obstinate and obnoxious girl who alienates everyone she comes in contact with. She will be the perfect meal.
But this is a redemptive tale and as Ebenezer waits for his prospective meal to get fatter, he begins to enjoy spending time with his charge. Bethany, a girl that is determined to antagonize everyone, starts to care about others in small meaningful ways. Eventually Tweezer divulges the Beast's ultimate objective. The two devise a plan to save Bethany from becoming a beast feast.
Like Roald Dahl books, The Beast and the Bethany features a revolting child (think Veruca Salt), an authority figure who delights in making children miserable (think Miss Trunchbull), and outrageous quantities of chocolate cake.