Series: Stand Alone
Author: Cat Hellisen
No. of Pages: 208
Published: February 3, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Middle Grade, Retelling
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B & N
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. ― Publisher
WHAT I LIKED
The world building and all the fantastical elements in Beastkeeper consistently impressed me. The approach is ominous, whimsical, at times bleak and cheery, but it was the moments that were spent within the forest that really stood out; as well as, Beastkeeper’s stunning cover art! In fact, the cover art alone tells a story of its own – I love it!
THINGS THAT MADE ME GO HMMM. . .
At first glance, Beastkeeper showed great potential. The story opened up with plenty of magic, bewitchment, spells, curses, self-discovery and tragedy; yet, while this was all great and grand, Beastkeeper’s initial intrigue sadly gave way to a festering pile of uninspiring dullness that sabotaged everything that could have been remotely good. To boot, the lore and logic that seemingly pushes the story along was not cohesive and simply didn’t hold the overarching storyline sufficiently well. In the same vein, I simply was not able to see or grasp the similarities between this story and that of Beauty and the Beast!
The characters in Beastkeeper were utterly forgettable — which is wild given everything that they go through. Granted, there was some depth as a lot of time was spent in Sarah’s head, but despite this aspect, all the characters (protagonist included) came across as one-dimensional and did not make up for the vapid plot.
The only thing Beastkeeper has going for itself is its unique voice and beautiful writing – it comes across as almost lyrical, to say the least; yet, while I do appreciate an invigorating read where an author’s choice of words can be very powerful and awe-inspiring, there are times where relying on an excessive amount of metaphors and similes does take a toll on the reader; in fact, mind-numbing is the word that comes to mind. There were many instances within the prose where the metaphors simply did not make sense or connect with the story and this main quibble tainted my overall reaction to the book. I am certain that I am the minority here as many readers will thoroughly enjoy this stylized method of writing and storytelling. However, I was just too exhausted from slogging through the endless amounts of similes and metaphors to muster any sort of excitement or interest.
While Beastkeeper contained several strands of a potentially good storyline, it was not enough to captivate me and I simply cannot recommend this book. Again, it is far from terrible; thus, I am certain that there is an audience for this book, just not anywhere near my radar and as aforementioned, I’m still trying to decide if this book was “too young” for me. In any case, I can’t even begin to imagine how any young reader would be able to plod through these painstakingly monotonous chapters without abandoning the book altogether!
SPECIAL BITS & PIECES
There was something very appealing about drifting away here, just forgetting and being forgotten.
|Drugs & Alcohol||Minor||Mild||Moderate||Heavy||Extreme|
|RECOMMENDED FOR||YOUTH 10+|
Loss of a loved one, foster care, orphancy, negligence, adult drinking and smoking, magic