Nico, Opal, Tyler, Emma, and Logan survived their worst fears come to life, and saved their tiny Pacific Northwest town of Timbers from a monstrous figment invasion. Now they just want to keep their heads down, enjoy Halloween, and explore the secrets of their mysterious houseboat clubhouse. And also figure out their new Torchbearer responsibilities as keepers of the Darkdeep, an ancient whirlpool hidden in Still Cove that can make both dreams and nightmares into reality.
But when a dangerous new breed of figments starts appearing on their own, and the very environment around them begins to spiral out of control, the friends realize they have no idea what they are doing-or how they’re supposed to restrain the Darkdeep. They must uncover the pool’s origins, as well as those of the freaky Thing in a Jar, a seemingly lifeless green creature Opal believes is communicating with her. To make matters worse, a trashy YouTube series has rolled into town intent on finding the Beast, the legendary local sea monster suddenly stirring up the countryside.
As threats rapidly close in around them, the friends must fight to protect their secrets, defeat new enemies, and save Timbers and all that they love.
Told from alternating points of view, this chilling sequel from bestselling duo Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs will once again have readers sleeping with the lights on.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EXPECTED SEPTEMBER 24, 2019
CW: mild violence
Last year, The Darkdeep had me impressed with its PNW eerieness, its oh-so-human preteen protagonists, and its stunning, colorful cover, and I’m thrilled to say that The Beast doesn’t disappoint at all. Picking up not too long after where The Darkdeep left off, The Beast is set on the cusp of Halloween, with our Torchbearer heroes still trying to get a better grasp of their responsibilities concerning the Darkdeep and keeping their world safe.
More so than last time, when Nico was the central character, Opal takes the main stage. It was great to spend more time inside her head, especially since we last left her with a curious connection to the Darkdeep that was unexplained. In some ways, it’s still a little bit unexplained (mostly why she’s the one that ended up most connected), but this book gives her time to come into her own and to twine herself into the Torchbearer group more fully. She trusts them, and wants them to trust her, something that provides an undercurrent to her character.
And while Nico wasn’t the focus this time, he’s still working on making his tentative new friendship with Logan work, while still keeping strong bonds with the rest of his friends. Altogether, they make a bit of an unlikely crew (and I still don’t care much for Logan, but he’s a bit of a rich boy braggart in my eyes, so I’m not surprised), but I actually really enjoy their group dynamic. It feels balanced between goofy and serious, eager and cautious, book smart and street smart, and it makes it fun to read about the five Torchbearers charging into danger despite the uncertainty of it all.
Speaking of uncertainty, there’s a fair bit of that here in the second installment of the series. The Beast of Still Cove’s existence is called into question in a delightful way, one that actually pulls Tyler a little closer to the forefront, especially given his deep-seated fear of the Beast, and there are questions about the figments still arising on the island and near the town of Timbers, figments that shouldn’t exist now that our team of Torchbearers have calmed the Darkdeep.
All things considered, I ended up pretty satisfied with the track The Beast took. It doesn’t raise quite as many questions as The Darkdeep, I think by virtue of being the second book requiring some functions of the world to be firmly established, but it does dig into the uncertainty left over from the first book to advance the plot further. Then, it sprinkles some MG level humor on top, some gratuitous use of Pokémon (Logan, you’re wrong, Pokémon is NOT just for kids, thank you very much), and an ending that promises a third book to come, making for a solid second book. I don’t think it’s nearly as good as The Darkdeep, but only by a hair, and certainly not by so much as for me to lower the star rating.
If you enjoyed The Darkdeep or know a kid in your life who devoured it, The Beast is going to hit shelves on September 24th, so you still have time to place a pre-order or make a request with your local library! Or, if you haven’t read The Darkdeep and you’re still reading this review for some reason, that’s plenty of time to catch up on where our Torchbearers have been before getting invested in The Beast! It’s a perfect series for fans of Gravity Falls, and all things now considered, I think anyone who enjoyed Into the Spiderverse is going to be interested in this series too.