The Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

beastkeeper

3 out of 5 stars.

At first I thought this was a junior chapter book. It is fairly short, the protagonist comes off as being on the young side, and the content is a little light for young adult. This holds true for most of the book. It is on the darker side for elementary aged books, but not actually unusually so. And then you get to the end, and the book ages like 6 years. It gets a lot more sophisticated and a lot darker a lot faster. It was a very significant change in tone. Don’t be fooled by the majority of the book and start reading it to children, it does get darker and more serious at the end.

The Beastkeeper is essentially a fairy tale. A girl lives with both her parents until her mother leaves. Her mother leaves because the father is turning into a beast. The father, fearing for his daughter, sends her to live with her extremely weird grandmother in a rundown castle. Sarah now has to figure out how to break the curse on her family before falling victim to it herself. It turns out the curse is rooted deep in her family’s past and not everyone is so keen to see it broken.

Just because of the tone change and the length, this was an unusual one. The age of the protagonist was also unclear for a lot of the book, leaving me a bit confused as to how to picture her. She reads as a fairly young child, but does fall significantly in love later. She spends most of the book confused about her parents in a way I find a little unbelievable in a mature teen. She grows at the end, but it was too sudden to really be believable.

The curse and the back story had me somewhat confused. I found there were a few too many characters involved in it, so I got a little turned around and may have missed something significant.

This is an interesting, short look at a fairytale trope without being a dedicated re-write, but I found too many elements of the story were inconsistent, or explained too quickly. This deserved to be a much longer book, with the change in tone being drawn out over a longer story and time period.

It is a unique little book, and since it is so short it is not a huge time commitment. Maybe take a look if fairy tales are your thing, but I do not think this will resonate with most fantasy readers.

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