Monday, October 26, 2015

YA Review: Beastkeeper

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellison, February 3, 2015. 208 pages. Published by Henry Holt & Co. (BYR). Source: library.
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. 
First Sentence:
The air was full of ice the night Sarah's mother packed all her bags and walked out.

Because sometime's one likes a change of pace. I decided to do this review a little differently than usual.

A couple months ago, I talked about some upcoming middle grade fairy tale retellings that you should keep an eye on. Well, I finally had a chance, thanks to my local library, to give one of them a shot and have five reasons why you should pick up Beastkeeper.

1. I personally really enjoyed how different the book’s take on Beauty and the Beast was. Especially since I’ve always had the questions like, “Why did the witch curse the prince,” and to see Cat Hellisen give answer to that lingering question was pretty awesome. It was also interesting because the curse affected not only the prince as it was passed down through the family; interesting in a rippling effect kind of way.

2. As is customary for fairy tales, Beastkeeper is not the lightest of books as Sarah has to face the untimely departure of her mother and being abandoned at her grandparents’ house after her father can no longer care for her. Personally, I found myself pulled into Sarah’s story because she just could not understand why her mother left or what was happening to her father. In a way, I felt that this book was about hope and how it is always lurking deep in your heart no matter what darkness you are currently facing. I liked that she held out hope that things would go back to normal, as well, as how she refused to let the curse rule her life.

3. Another reason I feel Cat Hellisen’s book is a must read is that one of the main themes within Beastkeeper, at least to my mind’s eye, would have to be forgiveness. When you delve into Sarah’s story you see how everything goes back to someone being jealous for being passes over. Which thus leads to the curse that, in the end, binds all of them to their unhappy fates. And yet, as she learns the why’s behind the family curse

4. I know Beastkeeper has some, well, low reviews...and yet, I really thought it was a good read. One that is maybe not the book you were expecting. But one that is important nonetheless. For me, the undercurrent of themes is why I want everyone give this one a shot. Don't read the synopsis, just open it and read it.

5. Final reason *does a little happy dance* The writing!! With Beastkeeper being the first book of Cat Hellisen's that I have ever read, I did not know what to expect from her writing style. Yet, I found myself quickly pulled into her writing as she wove the tale of Sarah and the sad history surrounding her family. This might sound weird, but I really enjoyed the "feel" of the book and the way the story unfolded. It's hard to say why this book "worked" for me, just that it did.

Final Verdict: Beastkeeper- While it didn't really feel like a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I still enjoyed it because it was well written and interesting.

Beastkeeper earns

This book was borrowed from my (awesome) local library. All thoughts are my own.

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