- Beast (Six Stories #4).
- Matt Wesolowski.
- 320 pages.
- Thriller / Psychological Thriller / Mystery.
- My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.
Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories…
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…
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Six Stories is a popular podcast hosted by Scott King. The premise is simple, six stories from six different people all with links to a specific case told over six episodes. King uses the podcast to look into cold cases and unsolved mysteries where he delves deep in search of answers to unanswered questions and the truth surrounded the case.
Beast is the fourth book in the Six Stories series. If you have read any of the previous books (Six Stories, Hydra and Changeling) then you will know what to expect and Beast doesn’t disappoint, once again finding Wesolowski on addictive, chilling and macabre form. If you are new to the Six Stories series then what you get is something atmospheric, clever, fresh and unique. Each ominous offering leads you on a compelling journey down dark paths and through stormy waters with a palpable sense of creeping unease that courses through the pages.
Each Six Stories book is a single self-contained case told over the featured Six Stories series in each individual book and can easily be read as a standalone. I will say that there are certain events that have happened to Scott King throughout the series that, in Beast, he does allude to and mention but, it doesn’t impact the case and it isn’t necessary to have read the other books in the series.
Beast is set against the backdrop of the Beast from the East storm that ravaged the UK in 2018. In the small coastal town of Ergarth on the Northumbrian coast, there is a local legend of the Ergarth Vampire. During the storm with the wind howling, the snow falling and the temperature dropping below zero twenty-four-year-old local vlogger Elizabeth Barton was taking part in the Dead in Six Days Challenge that was sweeping through the youth of Ergath. Elizabeth was imprisoned, locked inside Tankerville tower dubbed by the locals as ‘The Vampire Tower‘ where hours later she was found frozen to death. Three young men, former classmates of Elizabeth were convicted of the crime, admitting that it was a prank that went fatally wrong and that ended with the devastating loss of innocent life. So, in Beast we know who killed Elizabeth but, what we don’t know is the why? What were the motivations, what roads led to that fateful night at The Vampire Tower and what would drive three individuals to commit such a heinous act?
Over the course of Beast, Scott King speaks to six people all with ties to Elizabeth, the killers and Ergarth. Each individual account and each perspective adds to the overall story. Pulling back the mask, lifting up the veil and revealing the face beneath, for both Elizabeth and for the convicted trio. Looking at those involved, at Elizabeth, her online persona and who she really was, making you question if they are the same or not. At the killers, who they are, their backgrounds, the relationship between the three and what ties they had to Elizabeth. And, finally, the legend of the Ergarth Vampire, what it was born from and how it impacts the town.
Interspersed with the six podcast episodes you also get to see the research that Scott has done on the case and snippets of Elizabeth and her YouTube channel too.
The addition of social media to the story makes Beast relevant to today’s society. How we fall under its spell, how people are desperate for attention, how they will do anything to be famous, striving for their five minutes of Internet fame and how they push the boundaries ever further in their pursuit of comments, likes, follows, subscribers and the adoration, the validation of strangers. How ruthless they can be in their goal of getting to the top, how they control people, use and manipulate them. The Internet crazes that are prevalent in today’s society, that are rife in the youth culture amongst the attention junkies who crave their next fix of fleeting fame. You see how far a person is willing to go to be popular and to be seen to fit in by participating in whatever is deemed to be the latest ‘cool‘ Internet craze.
The setting and the sense of place that you get whilst reading Beast is tremendous and you are transported to the rundown coastal town of Ergarth. Ergarth is a claustrophobic small town where Tankerville Tower ‘The Vampire Tower’ a decaying monolith on the outskirts casts a forbidding shadow over the whole town. It is an area that has been forgotten by the government with no money and no jobs available. It is a place where life has been drained, leeched away, bleak and drab where the colour is muted and has turned to grey. It is a community where everyone knows each other and where gossip and rumours are rife. It is a town with history, the Ergarth Vampire a story that has been passed down through the centuries and from one generation to the next.
As the disturbing darkness unfolds you have the old and the new, local legend, fable, folklore and myth of the Ergarth Vampire combined with social media, perverse Internet games, modern life and real-world issues in an unholy union.
With Beast it is like the line between fiction and reality is blurred, like you are standing on the boundary between two worlds and have one foot on the side of ‘story‘ and the other on the side of ‘it’s real‘. It’s a book, a story, a work of unsettling fiction, you know that, a stone-cold and sinister creation from the Dark Prince of Orenda Books. But, at the same time, you have a feeling that you can’t shake, a spectre that whispers in your ear that what you are reading is real, that those souls tangled in the story are real and that it all really happened. Due to that, after finishing and when you have turned the final page you are left with an overriding sense of poignancy and of sadness for those involved in the powerful and tragic tale. That is something very special and that is the talent of an exceptional storyteller.
Simply, I loved Beast and I love the Six Stories series.
Purchase Beast (Six Stories #4) by Matt Wesolowski now in ebook and pre-order in paperback out on February 6th, 2020.
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