Elena Ferrante has written her first children’s book… and it’s terrifying.
The Beach at Night is narrated by a doll named Celina forgotten by her owner on the beach. As night falls, she must endure endless horrors before she makes her way back home. Frights include a vicious beach attendant, his terrifying rake, and almost getting burned and swept out to sea.
In Ferrante’s world, dolls can talk because their owners put words in them that they store in their bodies. The evil beach attendant is determined to take Celina’s words—and her name—out of her mouth by force. The illustrations are creepy as well: even Celina, the protagonist, is wide-eyed and unsettling.
A far cry from her beloved Neapolitan Novels, The Beach At Night contains seriously scary moments. Here are the five most horrifying lines.
1. “The Big Rake appears to agree and sticks his teeth out even farther, as if to open up my chest.”
The Big Rake tries to murder Celina by tearing open her chest. Nope, not at all scary.
2. “The Fire finally did it. He leaned forward and grabbed me by the hem of my blue dress. He went ‘Flusss,’ and now the material is burning. It has a nasty smell. ‘Bad Fire,’ I chastise him, but he repeats ‘Fluss’ and spreads even farther, till he brushes my hand with his boiling breath.”
The doll is slowly burning to death. We’re not terrified, not one bit.
3. “He clicks his tongue and from between his lips a small hook emerges, like a raindrop. The Hook, hanging on a disgusting thread of saliva, drops down until it enters my mouth.”
The beach attendant tries to steal her words with the hook in his mouth. What nightmare world is this?
4. “And I’m about to drop onto the sand when a Dark Animal runs by. He grabs me in his teeth and keeps on running.”
5. “Your heart I’ll shred/Until it’s dead.”
Just one lyric from the many dark and terrifying songs that the beach attendant sings.