Every girl and boy in the village of Frey fears the beast who lives in the forest. Ten years ago, the beast was formed from the town’s rage — and the evil that lurks inside all people in moments of weakness. Every year since, the townspeople have sacrificed one of their own to appease his anger. This year the sacrifice does not go as planned. A young man saves the chosen girl from fate. She is torn between doing her duty and untangling the identity of her savior and captor. The young man grew up with thoughts of revenge on the town that turned their backs on him, but when he is close to the girl, he is reminded of who he used to be. From once upon a time to happily ever after, the people of Frey will have to rally together to rid the town of evil once and for all, but in the process will they destroy everything that is good in their world?
At One’s Beast is a new take on “Beauty and the Beast,” with a love triangle, revenge, a spell, evil, fate, forgiveness, compassion, bitterness, capture, betrayal and love.
What went into the well was not supposed to come back out, ever. Every month, the townspeople of Frey gathered in the ragged clearing behind the cemetery to purify themselves through the well. It was an ancient and magical place. Once upon a time it had been a wishing well – a well full of water – but now it only contained rage between its moist stones. Over the years, the well had seen murderous thoughts, petty thievery, greed, jealousy, and many, many tears of spite. And over time, the well had grown black with the mold of disgust that crept slowly up its smoothed stones.
Zos held tight to his mother’s hand. He was not worried about being seen clinging to his mother when he was almost eleven years old because his thoughts were wrought through with apprehension. The townspeople surrounded Zos in a community of familiarity, but he still felt afraid. Feet stamped on the ground in impatience as each person waited his or her turn, slowly shuffling forward in a pre-determined and routine jumble of a line. Zos felt alone amidst the gathering of his neighbors. They ignored him as if he didn’t exist. They too were concentrated on the task at hand and the foreboding mist in the air. Zos could feel a terrifying pit of darkness coming from the well. It called to him, saying, “Zosimos, come close and peer into my depths. I want you. I need you.” Zos tried to back up but he was still connected to his mother. She scowled and yanked on his arm.
“It’s time, Zosimos. You’re not exempt from anger. The town must be cleansed and you along with it.” She pulled him forward as she spoke.
Zos shuffled his feet and sucked in a breath of cold air. He turned his Jackal figurine over and over in his pocket, the smooth familiar surfaces of the toy providing no comfort today. Even the air tasted black with chaos. It had a sooty taste and made Zos lightheaded. He wanted so desperately to run off into the forest. It was right there, just beyond the well. His legs were short but he could make it. He was just about to risk abandoning his mother when she yanked again on his arm and there they were.
“Zosimos…” The well breathed his name in the passing breeze.
Praise for At One’s Beast
” A classic tale retold, At One’s Beast is a solid YA with a well-written plot.” – R.M. Gilmore
“This is an immersive fantasy for young adults, but with broader appeal and deeper purpose. The characters are endearing, particularly Zos and Alcina. The story grips, the characters struggle with themselves and with one another, and with the revelation of buried truths.” – D.B. Rose
“Intrigue: Check. Mystery: Check. Ominous hook: Check. At one’s Beast is without a doubt a dark mystery worth the investment.” – Number 11
“At One’s Beast is a fresh take on the classic “Beauty and the Beast.” The characters are ones you can sympathize with. The story shows how people can push off their evil and attribute it to others, and then cast those people aside.” – R3
“Overall this book is well written. It has some fantastic descriptions, and I felt myself immersed in the world and culture.” – Purple Violin
“This book is beautifully written. I was very impressed with Barnard’s style and prose. The author is at times almost poetic, giving the story an otherworldly atmosphere.” – A.E. Albert
“At One’s Beast is a well-constructed take on the dark fairy-tale genre. It’s got all the right ingredients: a beleaguered town surrounded by monster-haunted forests, long-forgotten secrets, and a brave main character who must survive though her wits and strength of character.” – Rob May