I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast is Me
Henry Holt & Co.
Published August 29, 2023
About I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast is Me
There will be blood.
ACE OF SPADES meets HOUSE OF HOLLOW in this villain origin story.
Laure Mesny is a perfectionist with an axe to grind. Despite being constantly overlooked in the elite and cutthroat world of the Parisian ballet, she will do anything to prove that a Black girl can take center stage. To level the playing field, Laure ventures deep into the depths of the Catacombs and strikes a deal with a pulsating river of blood.
The primordial power Laure gains promises influence and adoration, everything she’s dreamed of and worked toward. With retribution on her mind, she surpasses her bitter and privileged peers, leaving broken bodies behind her on her climb to stardom.
But even as undeniable as she is, Laure is not the only monster around. And her vicious desires make her a perfect target for slaughter. As she descends into madness and the mystifying underworld beneath her, she is faced with the ultimate choice: continue to break herself for scraps of validation or succumb to the darkness that wants her exactly as she is—monstrous heart and all. That is, if the god-killer doesn’t catch her first.
From debut author Jamison Shea comes I FEED HER TO THE BEAST AND THE BEAST IS ME, a slow-burn horror that lifts a veil on the institutions that profit on exclusion and the toll of giving everything to a world that will never love you back.
First, I have to say this author either has some up-close experience in the dance world or definitely did their research. The descriptions of what dancing en pointe does to your toes… YUP. Brought back so many memories. Wowza. Not the horrific element I expected to find here, but pretty real stuff nonetheless! Ha.
I found myself nodding along to a lot of the dance descriptions, like the ways the dancers do things, from breaking in a pair of shoes to techniques used on the dance floor. That’s a lot of stuff to get right, and the author really did that. It very much lines up with my own experience.
I thought Laure’s character was really compelling. I liked the moments she delivered commentary on the ballets the company chose to perform and how they were cast, as well as the expectations about how dancers were to look and act.
In some moments, I felt out of sync with the paranormal/supernatural parts of the plot. I felt like I was missing something. I’m not sure if I didn’t absorb a few critical details or what exactly happened there.
Still, so many parts of the book deeply fascinated me. I especially liked Keturah and Andor and the ways they impacted the story. I loved the complications Andor faced in his love life, too. It was so different and really emphasized the strangeness of the story.
On the whole, I am glad I read the book. I loved getting to be immersed in a ballet world– even one so toxic and tragic as this one.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
The main character is Black and queer.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat infrequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
Laure and her friends encounter a river of blood and an ancient god who offers them temporary gifts for a price.
Graphic descriptions of dance injuries and injuries resulting from sabotage. Situations of peril. Laure discovers the bodies of two people who appear to have been murdered. One scene includes graphic descriptions of torture. Another includes a battle between two god-powered characters. In a couple of scenes, a character drinks blood from another person.
Laure, seventeen, drinks alcohol with an older dancer.
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