Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories…
In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.
Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.
Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the Ergarth Vampire…
Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…
Over these six episodes, were looking back at the murder of Elizabeth Barton
In Elizabeth, Wesolowski has created a fascinating and extremely modern character. The reader initially learns about Elizabeth as someone who was widely admired around Ergarth. Pretty, popular, and philanthropic, she was a star pupil and an up and coming vlogging sensation. She had plans to launch her own charity, and her murder has left the town feeling bereft as even those with the most spurious of connections to her admired her and miss her following her untimely demise. She sounds too good to be true, and as Scott begins to dig into the case, he finds another view of Elizabeth and her behaviour, one that casts her in a very different light. Some feared her, and the reaction that any negative opinion of her might have incurred, and her brother’s view is particularly enlightening.
Every single thing she did was thought out, planned, and devised to make her look good
Is this a case of sibling rivalry, or was there more to Elizabeth than people were aware of?
We’re not here to solve a mystery; we’re here to discuss what happened
Three young men were charged with Elizabeth’s murder. All of them were at school with Elizabeth, and at least two of them seemed to be infatuated with her. At the time, they claimed it was a prank gone wrong, and the evidence against them was damning. Putting my detective hat on for a moment, while there was opportunity and evidence, what the three lacked was a motive, and this is a particularly intriguing mystery. As with Elizabeth, it was interesting to get the different sides of these characters as Scott presents his six episodes, talking to different individuals who knew those involved. George and Martin are seen as ne’er do wells, both with a history of acting out, and this ultimately counts against them as a seemingly inevitable escalation of their previous behaviour. Solomon – the supposed ringleader – has always been viewed as odd, and while few seemed to know him in any great depth, he was widely known for his fascination with vampires. There’s a feeling with these three characters that no one tried to get to know them, judging them by their families and backgrounds without giving them an opportunity to prove themselves.
Wesolowski highlights the extremes that some people will go to in order to get a click, a like, and a follower in today’s social media driven world. I’m so glad that I grew up before the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were launched. I can’t imagine the pressure on teenagers today to achieve the level of perfection that is touted as the norm. I liked the way in which Wesolowski highlights that the images and lifestyles we’re supposed to admire and aspire to may not be quite what they seem, with other people’s lives not quite as perfect and glossy as their selfies and photos make out. It seems obvious to say it, and yet I think that it does sometimes need highlighting.
Throughout the novel, there are references to the local vampire legend of Ergarth, and I loved that, despite their scepticism, everyone has a story to tell about “the beast from the east” as the vampire was dubbed. Wesolowski builds a fantastic tale around this local legend and, as with earlier instalments in the series, this add a wonderful sense of eeriness to the tale. I’ve loved the whole series, and Beast is a welcome addition. It follows a now familiar format, but each novel is unique and blends a mystery that, if not unsolved, has some element to it that has not been satisfactorily answered. The dash of horror adds a little something extra to these novels to make them extremely compelling reads.
Beast is published by Orenda Books and is available now in a digital format, with the paperback due for publication on 20 February. Many thanks to the publisher and to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for the opportunity to join the blog tour.
Make sure you check out the other fantastic bloggers taking part in the tour: