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Battle of the Beast

Illustrated by Isabelle Follath

About The Book

Lemony Snicket meets Roald Dahl in this “fresh game of cat and mouse” (Kirkus Reviews) that’s the riotously funny, deliciously macabre, and highly illustrated third book in the middle grade The Beast and the Bethany series in which Bethany and Ebenezer find themselves with a surprising new roommate: the beast itself.

After being vanquished in spectacular fashion that included an umbrella with human-puddling capabilities and a darn good show, the beast is transferred to a hidden island and placed in an impenetrable cage where it can no longer hurt anyone or carry out its dastardly plan to make Bethany its next meal. Meaning Bethany and Ebenezer’s lives are finally beast free and they can pursue their do-gooding activities in peace—even if the “gooding” part is questionable.

But when it’s revealed that the beast has lost its memory and D.0.R.R.I.S. declares that it’s no longer dangerous, the beast is delivered back where it came from: Ebenezer and Bethany’s house.

Can the beast really be good? Or, if its newfound manners aren’t to be trusted, what could it be planning next?


1. The Feathery Feast

The Feathery Feast
The only thing left of Wintloria was the forest, and there wasn’t much of that left anymore.

The trees were said to possess an ancient and beguiling form of magic—leaves that could wipe away scars, fruit nourishing enough to sustain an entire family for a week, bark that could scratch any itch, no matter how irksome or inconveniently located. As a result, the forest attracted much unwanted attention from the sort of people who couldn’t appreciate beauty unless they could chop it down and make it their own.

As the forest grew smaller and the trophy hunters grew greedier, many of the animals deserted its branches. However, there was one group of creatures who stubbornly refused to leave.

There were only nineteen Wintlorian purple-breasted parrots left in the world, and nearly all of them lived in the Wintlorian rain forest. They were a noisy and deeply impractical species, constantly searching for opportunities to sing another song or host another feathery fashion show, when they should have been worrying about their own existence.

On this particular day, the parrots had gathered in the hollow trunk of the largest tree to celebrate their third feast of the week. The first feast had been thrown to mark the queen’s favorite corgi’s half-birthday, while the second had been to celebrate the fact that one of the parrots had finally found the piece of string she had been looking for all afternoon. This third feast, however, promised to be a very special one indeed.

Every parrot was dressed in their featheriest finery. They were all laying delicious egg-shaped meals for one another, and the volume of their songs was already approaching a level that some may have termed “rowdy.” At the top of the tree, a young male parrot named Mortimer was hanging up a banner that read: WELCOME HOME, CLAUDETTE.

“Spiffy-whiff sign, Morty!” said Giulietta, an extremely well-dressed older parrot. “Need a spot of help hanging the thing up?”

Mortimer grimaced. For one thing, the only person he allowed to call him “Morty” was Claudette. For another, he hated his species’ obsession with always having to do things together.

“I’m fine,” he snapped. “I don’t need anyone’s help.”

“I know you don’t need the help,” said Giulietta, “but it’s nice to have it all the same, what-what? If we only focused on the things we needed in life, then there would no such thing as the cha-cha—ooh, or the blueberry cheesecake.”

Thrilled with her own marvelous observation, Giulietta started humming the tune to a cha-cha, as she wiggled her sizeable bottom and laid an egg containing a blueberry cheesecake. She flew up and grabbed one end of Mortimer’s banner.

“Get off!” shouted Mortimer, as he tugged it away from her.

“I shall do no such thing,” said Giulietta, tugging right back. “Every parrot knows that four talons are better than two.”

The tug of war continued—Giulietta determined to offer help, Mortimer even more determined not to accept it—until the banner ripped down the middle.

“Whoopsie-poopsie,” said Giulietta.

“Whoopsie-poopsie?!” spluttered Mortimer. “I spent all week working on this so it would be perfect for Claudette, and now you’ve ruined it, you blithering twerp!”

Giulietta’s eyes filled with purple tears. She wasn’t used to hearing such unfriendly words in the forest, because all Wintlorians were supposed to be kind to one another and the world around them.

“S-S-Sorry, M-M-Morty,” she stammered. “I should have been more c-c-careful.”

“You should never have bothered me in the first place,” said Mortimer. “Go away and make someone else’s life a misery instead.”

Giulietta flapped her way back down to the bottom of the tree, raining purple tears. Mortimer hung up the larger part of the banner, which now read: ME HOME CLAUDETTE.

He was irritated to find that he was feeling guilty about how he had treated Giulietta, even though she was the one who had destroyed the banner. He knew that Claudette would make him apologize when she got there, so, reluctantly, he swooped down to the bottom of the tree.

The hollow trunk was a chaos of purple, with every bird singing and dancing a merry tune about the return of their favorite parrot. They sang about the exquisite fluffiness of Claudette’s feathers, the honey-dipped silkiness of her voice, and the kindness she showed to everyone she met. There was even an entire verse dedicated to the sparkle in her left eye.

Unlike the rest of his species, Mortimer was not a fan of feasts. Usually, he made excuses to avoid them, and had only made an exception for this one because of his affection for Claudette. In fact, out of all the parrots in the forest, Mortimer was probably the one who loved Claudette the most. She had acted as a mother to him after his parents had been killed by trophy hunters.

If Mortimer had been a singing or dancing sort of parrot, then he could have led a verse that would have moved the rest of the tree to tears. He wondered whether he should give it a go, for Claudette’s sake. Reluctantly, and shaking ever so slightly, he stepped farther into the gathering. But before he could sing a note, or give his bottom so much as a wiggle, the whole forest began to shake.

A puddle grew out of the ground in front of the tree. At first it looked like any normal puddle—the sort you might find on a pavement after a rainy day, or in a gym after an especially sweaty game of dodgeball. But then it started to spit and hiss.

“She’s on her way!” said Mortimer in excitement. “Any moment now, Claudette will be here!”

For the past few weeks, Claudette had been in the care of the Division of Removing Rapscallions in Secret (D.o.R.R.i.S. among friends), a clandestine organization whose agents traveled almost exclusively via puddle portals. None of the parrots were entirely sure why Claudette needed to be looked after by D.o.R.R.i.S. in the first place, but they were all terribly excited to see her. Mortimer fluffed his feathers to make sure they were at their very best, while the others sang Claudette’s song at an increasingly hysterical volume.

The puddle spat out three D.o.R.R.i.S. agents, otherwise known as Dorrises: one human, another humanish, and the final one not human at all. They were all sporting weapons as varied as their appearances.

“Who’s the highest-ranking parrot here? I have a special message from D.o.R.R.i.S. head agent Mr. Nicholas Nickle,” said Agent Hughie, a suave human with a laser gun.

“There is no ranking system in Wintloria,” answered one of the parrots in a singsong voice. “Every man, parrot, and toad lives equally in this forest.”

“That is simply not acceptable,” said Agent Louie, a humanish agent with orange scales instead of skin. “There must be someone in charge. We can’t conduct a conversation with all of you at once.”

“Whyever not? We Wintlorians are all charming conversationalists. Try us on any topic, and I promise we won’t disappoint,” answered a different parrot.

“Name… a… leader,” hissed Agent Stewie, who looked like the result of what might happen if a cactus fell in love with a large possum. “If you don’t, we won’t be able to portal Claudette to this location.”

“I’m in charge,” said Mortimer, stepping forward. “Give us Claudette, now.”

There was murmuring aplenty from the other parrots. None would say it aloud, but all were thinking that if there were a leader of their species, it certainly wouldn’t be Mortimer.

Agent Hughie bent over, nose to beak with the young parrot. “What’s your name, rank, and occupation?”

“None of your business, none of your business, and none of your business,” answered Mortimer. “Where’s Claudette?”

Agent Hughie clicked at Agent Louie, who presented Mortimer with an incomprehensible medical chart. Agent Stewie hissed coordinates into a peculiar radio.

“Mr. Nickle felt we should warn you about Claudette’s condition, because we know she’s been hiding the truth,” said Agent Hughie. “She didn’t want to worry you all.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Mortimer. His tone was sharp and unfriendly, but inside he was jittery with fear and worry. “Just tell me.”

“Claudette has been in contact with a creature as dark, dangerous, and prickly as a hedgehog waiting in the shadows with a torpedo,” said Agent Louie. “We’ve done what we can for her, but there’s something blocking her recovery. Her experience with… this thing… has left her weak.”

“She’s lucky to be alive at all,” hissed Agent Stewie with a shudder. “Wherever this creature goes, death and destruction usually follow.”

“What creature?” asked Mortimer. “Why aren’t any of you speaking its name?”

The three agents shared a glance.

“We just wanted you to be prepared,” said Agent Hughie, as he nodded to Agent Stewie. “Mr. Nickle felt it was the least you deserved.”

Agent Stewie fiddled with a high-tech device that looked awfully like an umbrella. The puddle portal started to hiss and spit again—more angrily this time.

The parrots at the back, who hadn’t heard the conversation, started whooping, cheering, and singing the song of Claudette again. The other parrots joined in, hoping to steel their nerves with the song, but Mortimer kept his beak closed.

The singing grew louder and the puddle grew hissier and more spitful, until something purple burst out. The singing immediately stopped.

The something purple was Claudette.

It took a moment for the parrots to recognize her, because she had changed so very much. Her once splendid feathers were now pale and patchy, the sparkles in both her eyes had dimmed, and she was using a small crutch under one of her wings. She tried her hardest to put a smile across her beak.

“Hullo, poppets,” she said. Her beautiful voice was raspy and cracked. “It’s so very nice to see you all. Shall we sing a—?”

Claudette was trying to be brave, but the exertion was too much for her. She wobbled on her talons and fell to the ground.

Mortimer immediately flew to her side. The other parrots fetched leaves, barks, fruit, and other secrets of the forest that might heal her ailments. Mortimer cradled Claudette in his small wings, demonstrating a delicacy and a gentleness that none of the other parrots had seen from him before.

“Claudette… I…,” began Mortimer.

He didn’t know what to say. Last time he had seen Claudette, she had been able to get through an entire concert without breaking a sweat. Now she couldn’t even get through a sentence. The sight of his favorite parrot in the world looking so weak made him feel terrified and powerless—but, above all things, absolutely furious.

“Who did this to you, Claudette?” Mortimer tried using his softest voice, but it just came out bitter and hard. “Give me a name!”

“The beast,” murmured Claudette. Using the little strength she had left, she sat up and whispered urgently into his ear, “I’ve seen into the beast’s mind, Morty: its dreadful deeds, its awful memories. And yet nothing is compared to the things that it wants to do to a girl named Bethany. Save her, Morty. Do whatever it takes, and SAVE BETHANY.”

About The Author

Photo by David Myers

Jack Meggitt-Phillips is an author, scriptwriter, and playwright whose work has been performed at The Roundhouse and featured on Radio 4. He is scriptwriter and presenter of The History of Advertising podcast. In his mind, Jack is an enormously talented ballroom dancer, however his enthusiasm far surpasses his actual talent. Jack lives in north London where he spends most of his time drinking peculiar teas and reading P.G. Wodehouse novels.

About The Illustrator

Photo by Martin Hauser Follath

Isabelle Follath is a freelance illustrator living in Zurich, Switzerland, with her lovely husband, her sweet daughter, and her fabulous dog. She has worked for advertising agencies, magazines, and publishers for over fifteen years, but Isabelle’s true passion lies in illustrating children’s books. When not drawing, Isabelle can be found making lots of coffee, trying new crafts, or going on a hunt for new art supplies and the perfect greenish-gold watercolor. Visit her online at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Aladdin (January 23, 2024)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665903837
  • Grades: 4 - 8
  • Ages: 9 - 13
  • Lexile ® 770L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®
  • Fountas & Pinnell™ T These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System

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"Lively, whimsical illustrations add to the humor and intrigue... A fresh game of cat and mouse."

Kirkus Reviews 

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