Ebenezer Tweezer has the looks of a young man in his twenties, but he is actually 511 years old and owes his youthful appearance and pampered lifestyle to a Dorian Gray-style deal with the beast who lives in the attic of his mansion. This beast, a huge blob of a creature with three black eyes, two black tongues and a large dribbling mouth, has an increasingly voracious appetite. To Ebenezer’s dismay, the beast is no longer satisfied with such delights as exotic pets, historic statues and the odd cactus and instead demands a juicy child to eat in exchange for the potion that keeps Ebenezer young. Enter Bethany, an orphan with attitude, who proves more than a match for Ebenezer, but can they outwit the beast together.
This entertaining debut novel has overtones of Dahl in its mingling of dark humour and gruesome detail. The text is fast-paced and engaging, the mix of wit, bad behaviour and revolting descriptions will delight young readers and the enticing cover and lively illustrations contribute greatly to the book’s appeal. Amidst the humour and mayhem, the story has a strong moral core as vain, selfish Ebenezer and rude, challenging Bethany grow and change and learn to help each other. This enticing debut should appeal to all young readers who enjoy macabre humour, gruesome details, larger than life characters and plenty of action. This is one to recommend to Dahl, Snicket and Walliams fans.