Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
Release date: February 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt (Macmillan)
Length: 208 pages
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: Magical, haunting, atmospheric, and bittersweet.


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.

Beastkeeper is one of those middle grade novels that is just too good, you know? Where the prose is all sunlight and shadows and forests and metaphors and want to wander through it and close you eyes and roll around in it? And it's all atmosphere and darkness and MAGIC? Basically, Cat Hellisen is a wizard.

Beastkeeper is the story of Sarah, who on the day her mother leaves discovers that her family in entangled in a mess of curses. Her father is turning to beast, she's been abandoned in a mysterious tower castle in the woods with an icy grandmother she never knew, and worst of all, the curse could be coming for her next. Sarah decides to uncover the secrets and find the truth of the curses so she can break them, free her father, and find her mother.

I loved this book. It's magic. I didn't get a ton of feelsy feels from it, but Sarah's emotions of loneliness and heartbreak were definitely there and deep. Such terrrrrible things happen to her and the world is so unfair  and mean and GAH. There might have been one or two steps missing in the plot, though I can't quiiiite put my finger on what it is, but the general tone, atmosphere, writing, concepts, and twists are so exemplary that I don't even want to spend too much time thinking about what didn't work for me. It's just so BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED. It's told in very lyrical third person which never makes me SUPER CONNECT emotionally but also makes me drool at the beauteousness. And then it all goes crazypants and I just LOVED it.

This book is a dark, original fairy tale. If that's you're thing, I highly encourage you to give Beastkeeper a try and figure out who the real beasts are and who it is who keeps them. And basically I want to read everything Cat Hellisen has ever written.


  1. Beasts! I need to read this!

  2. Wow, this seems like such an amazing read, plus the cover is really pretty too! Now I'm interested. Thank you for sharing! :)
    Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor: BLOG || VLOG

  3. Aaaaand everybody loves it. So I guess I'll be giving it a go, though usually middle grade are too shallow for me (I mean, appropriate for their genre and all, that's just a me and expectations issue). Thanks for the review!

  4. I can't wait to read this one!!! I get nervous reading a lot of middle grade, afraid I won't like it for whatever reason, but this one sounds too good to pass up.

  5. Yay :D So glad you enjoyed this book Gillian. <3 I am so curious about it. Waaants it. Thank you for sharing your awesome thoughts :)

  6. Love what you've said about Beastkeeper in your review, Gillian! I think you captured the essence of the story perfectly. It was really magical, and really atmospheric, and really lovely - and I enjoyed it too.

  7. I really want to read this after reading your review - it sounds great! Brilliant review! :)


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