This is, without a doubt, going to be the hardest review I have ever written – why? Because this book was phenomenal. The Beast Player has now joined Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott in the space of my favourite ever book, & I didn’t think that anything would ever measure up to Shadows on the Moon. The Beast Player was everything I could ever have wanted from a book & I cannot wait for the rest of the series to be printed in English.
I was sent an ARC of this book by Pushkin Press in return for an honest review.
This book includes mild gore, racism toward fictional races & the abuse of fictional animals.
Can a book ever be as beautiful as it’s cover, when it’s cover looks like this one does? Yes. Yes it bloody can. Nahoko Uehashi has created an incredible world, with fascinating creatures & heart-stopping politics; as well as characters you can’t help but love & others you can’t help but hate. This book took me into another world & when I finished it I felt like I had forgotten about the real world; I was mesmerised by this story every time I picked it up & I’m aching for the rest of the series.
This review won’t be as detailed as some of my other reviews, or as well planned out, because I just don’t know what to say to you, other than read this book. The Beast Player tells more than one story, but mainly follows the life of protag Elin – Elin is hard not to fall in love with as a child, & impossible not to admire as a young adult. She’s fierce & determined with the biggest heart – a heart that has been absorbed by The Royal Beasts.
Elin’s fairly calm life is thrown into disarray when her mother is sentenced to death, & after a ride on the back of an animal that is only supposed to kill, Elin finds herself in the middle of a valley with a man that is a little bit too much in love with his bees. Elin grows into a strong & almost fearless young teenager in the care of this man, & when her dreams come true, & she’s able to train to become this world’s version of a very high-end vet, she grows into one of the strongest female protags I’ve ever seen in young adult fiction. I related to Elin so much, because I could see myself doing everything she did – but with wolves, instead of The Royal Beasts. I understood Elin & I felt like I knew her. She was everything.
The world this book is set in has been so well developed that you do not question a single thing about it; there aren’t any plot holes that I could see, & the world is so deep that it may as well be a real place. I’ve been saying for ages now that I’m fed up of books with royal families at the heart of it, but as the royal family in this world nudged its way into the main plot, I found myself not minding it. Not minding it at all. Why? Because the politics in this story are enraging & captivating & so, so raw – they feel so real & so well thought out that I really was quite okay with the royal family butting their way into Elin’s story (although, I also wish they hadn’t for Elin’s sake so my mind is a little torn in this sense…). The history of the world that Elin lives in has the same level of detail as George RR Martin’s Westeros, & I found myself understanding all the different points of view that this history has created. Everything was complex & super detailed, but not in a stress-inducing way; instead the history burrows its way into your memory & leaves you wishing for a history lesson.
This book won’t bore you with pointless romances, & it won’t give you any of those boring tropes that are so common in YA books right now; instead it will take you on a journey unlike any other & fill your heart with fire. It’s immersive, addictive & so bloody perfect. I told my boyfriend that I loved The Beast Player almost as much as I loved him, but they may very well share equal parts of my heart.
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