I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me

Holt. Aug. 2023. 352p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250909565.
Gr 10 Up–Laure Mesny has given everything in pursuit of joining the Paris Ballet: her time, her body, and even her own family. As one of the few Black dancers in her prestigious school, she has learned that she must be the very best in order to receive the same chances that the many white, privileged, and less-talented dancers around her are casually handed. Her audition is flawless, but the racist board members are not swayed, using cruel and coded language to label and dismiss her talent. A surprise encounter with ballet darling Josephine brings Laure in contact with a dark, potentially malevolent presence in a cave who offers to bargain with her. Laure doesn’t hesitate to offer the presence anything in return for the major thing lacking in her life: power. Jamison could have easily taken this story down well-traveled roads and delivered a cautionary tale about power corrupting, but they don’t, and it’s all the more satisfying. Laure seeks power because of a lifetime of powerlessness, and readers will savor her grisly transformation and dark triumph over her oppressors. Certainly there are monstrous aspects to Laure’s newfound abilities and the secrets that shroud her benefactor, but the solid character development helps build empathy for Laure and her circumstances.
VERDICT A unique take on a classic horror tale, this brutal ballet story is gruesome and satisfying. A first purchase for high school libraries.

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