REVIEW: Beast, Matt Wesolowski #BLOGTOUR

Friday, 21 February 2020

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'…
Matt Wesolowski’s Beast is a marvel of literary forms; a litany of transcripts in all shapes and sizes. Podcasts, YouTube, BBC Look North. Because, how can you portray an accurate depiction of crime in modern-day England without them? 
The Beast is a masterful study of context and place: how poverty and deprivation have fed into a community into which the only thing that matters is social media fame. It is a familiar picture, especially to someone who has grown up in Northern England and who is now surrounded by people who have thrown their hats into the world of affiliate marketing. Everyone wants the likes because, in a community like this, how else are you supposed to make a name for yourself?
Through interviews with six witnesses, a picture - broad in its scope - is gradually portrayed of a town on the brink and a girl whose death has marked their experiences forever. Its familiar, and it is in that familiarity that everything becomes all the more startling and unnerving; things are different but only slightly, and it is in that, that the true horror lies. 
The fourth in Wesolowski’s Six Stories series is a nail-biting, fast-paced investigation; one steadily and masterfully built, as the book races towards its spectacular, timely conclusion. Mixing fact with fiction, delusion from reality, it is the perfect one to wile away a few hours because, believe me, when you pick it up, you’re not going to put it down until it is all over.

Thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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