I received this book for free from Henry Holt and Co., Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Middle-Grade, Retellings
Source: Henry Holt and Co., Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
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Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn’t know that it’s magic her parents are running from.
When Sarah’s mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn’t even know were still alive.
Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast . . . unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever.
I am always up for a fairytale retelling, so of course I had to read this book. Especially since it has a dark twist to it. This was a book that was so easy to get into and get lost in. I loved uncovering all the secrets and find out how everything would end up. This is middle grade, but it the writing was very mature. the characters were great, though we don’t get to know many of them very well aside from Sarah and Alan. We learn about the other characters, but don’t really know them on an emotional level. Either way, this was a great book.
Sarah is a young girl, but wise beyond her years. She has moved around a lot and she is a bit lonely, but she is used to it. Her parents have always been different, but very loving. That is until her mother ups and leaves, then her father abandons her to her grandmother that she never even knew existed. Now she is in a home with a woman who doesn’t seem to want to be bothered by her, in the middle of the woods with no explanation from her father. She slowly starts to uncover the truth of her family curse, and decides that all curses can be broken and she will find a way. The deeper into things she gets, she realizes that no matter what she does, her family is not fixable. She’s a curious girl, she’s brave, and also cursed along with the rest of her family.
Alan is an odd boy who she discovers is much, much more. He is there for her when she needs him, but seems to always keep a distance. He helps her, but is also very frustrating at times, and of course, he becomes the boy she is falling for whether he wants that or not. I both liked and disliked him at the same time. I understood why he was the way he was to her at times, but I still was angry at the decisions he made. He was a complex character that I wish we had gotten a bit more in depth with, but it was a short book so there was only so much time with trying to explain everything else.
This was a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. There is no magical rose or a time limit on the curse, and of course, it is passed down through the family. That’s not all though. It’s much more complex than that and the “rules” of the curse were really interesting and I loved learning about it. The best part, the MC is actually a beast since she is part of the curse passed down through the family. It was a short book, but full of secrets, magic, and fun. This was a fast and entertaining read that I really enjoyed getting lost in.
3.5 Hot Espressos
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