[Book Review] Arax the Soul Stealer (Beast Quest Special Bumper Edition, #3) by Adam Blade

Arax the Soul Stealer has snatched away good Wizard Aduro's spirit, leaving the kingdom exposed to the evil of Wizard Malvel. To save Aduro, Tom tracks Arax to his cave - but the terrible Beast wants Tom's soul, too...

Arax the Soul Stealer is the fourth Beast Quest Special Bumper Edition, meant to come between The Dark Realm and The Amulet of Avantia. In the story, Blade introduces his audience a new character who I assume will recurring: Marc, Aduro's apprentice, who tangentially assists Tom in his quest to stop Arax the Soul Stealer, a Beast who looks like the Yowie Yahoo from Scooby-Doo! and the Legend of the Vampire, is animated in a weird Dragon Ball Z-like style instead of the previous books' more traditional Western art style, and has the power to rip out people's souls, which has the predictably black-and-white-morality result of turning the victim pure evil.

The Beast has stolen Aduro's soul--his wisdom and honesty, his decency and kindness.

See, this is why I hate Beast Quest. People are only wise, honest, decent, and kind because of an unproven and improvable metaphysical concept? Yeah, no. I'm not amused. And in fact, it seems that Arax the Soul Stealer is a snowball of all the terrible aspects of the Beast Quest series (which, should you enjoy those aspects--and in that case, you're probably reading the wrong blog, since our tastes don't seem to be lining up at all).

It's not a Beast Quest book unless Elenna is captured, so she doesn't make it far into the story before playing Damsel in Distress again. But this is a special edition, and so you hold onto your seats, folks, 'cause you're getting two Elenna-nappings for the price of one! In fact, there's an entire chapter entitled "Elenna in Danger", which I have to object to because when the fuck is Elenna not in danger?

The rules of Tom's shadow change once again; while the rule was that Tom would be paralyzed if the shadow went too far away, he is now unable to move if he uses the shadow at all. I mean, that rule never made any damn sense, but I'd appreciate some consistency, at least!

Meanwhile, Tom's stuck on the mystery of his father, which has nothing to do with the Arax plot and obviously gets no resolution. And, of course, he doesn't even mention his mother. Am I forgetting something here? Does he know what happened to her already, and I've just forgotten it...? Or does he just not care?

But most importantly, Arax's soul-stealing superpower brings an extra layer of "what the fuck is this" to the story in the form of Nemico. Who's Nemico? Why, he's a severed part of Tom's soul that turns into an evil doppelganger! Because what the fuck else would he be--something that made sense? Not in this series!

In the end, Elenna stops distracting Tom long enough for Tom to defeat Arax and restore Aduro's soul, but there's a twist! Unlike all the other Beasts since the original six stories--save for perhaps Seth/Sting--Arax is implied to have survived his encounter with the golden boy of Avantia, with Aduro saying he's "not so sure" that Arax has been "destroyed".

It's an obvious sequel hook, but I'm certainly not biting. Beast Quest is one of the most boring and repetitive stories that I've ever had to misfortune of reading, and it's seemingly never-ending and certainly never interesting. This is me checking out for good.

Adios, Mr. Blade.

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