Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mini-review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Title: Beastkeeper
Author: Cat Hellisen
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
SUMMARY (from Goodreads)
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.

Well, shame on me for dismissing middle grade books as books for kids. Beastkeeper was wonderful.

I’ll try to explain why I loved this book so much. Firstly, the writing is beautiful. Cat Hellinsen knows her way with words. It was such a pleasure to read this book and I kept returning and rereading some phrases.

“She wondered what flavor silence was, and if it grew hard and brittle if you threw it away, or if people sometimes stepped on wads of discarded silence and it stuck to the soles of their shoes and made their footfalls softer.”

Beastkeeper is very atmospheric. From the first page I was immersed in Sarah’s strange magical world.

The next reason I liked this book is an interesting and original approach to Beauty and the Beast. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairytales, I usually try to check out retellings and this one I found intriguing. The girl who is the beast? Family curse? I was sold. And I totally didn’t see those twists coming.

I should probably warn you that Beastkeeper is not a sweet and happy Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. This story is darker and there is no happily ever after. This is a heartbreaking story about love and loss, about sacrifices. This is a story where it’s not clear who are the devil and the hero. The ending is bittersweet.

All in all Beastkeeper surprised me a lot and I recommend it.


  1. I'm not usually one to pick up middle grade books up either Ksenia, but your review certainly has me intrigued! Also I do like books which offer something different, so I don't think that I would be too bothered by the ending not having a happily ever after, thanks for putting this one on my radar!

    1. I hope you will like it, Jasprit. I love HEA, but some books are better without it.

  2. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales and it sounds like this was an original and wonderful take on it. Lovely review, Ksenia! :)

  3. I am absolutely in love with Middle Grade books. More and more, I find a lot of them being able to transcend any age and demographic, and that's what I love about it - it has the complexity and deepness of an adult book, and the simplicity and ideals of that something written for a child. Makes me happy to see another one of those MG in this title! Will have to put it on my TBR :)

    Faye at The Social Potato