Review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

March 15, 2015 4 stars, Book Review 6 ★★★★

Review: Beastkeeper by Cat HellisenBeastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
Published by Henry Holt & Co (BYR) on February 3, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade & Childrens
Pages: 208
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

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 a dark fairytale of a young girl and her cursed family. It’s not only a coming of age story but one that forces young readers to examine and deal with some really harsh realities like abandonment, neglect, and maybe a bit of abuse. I know all of that sounds a bit depressing but this girl was such a strong character and it wasn’t that her parents didn’t love her but more like they were so focused on themselves that care for her came second. Which I’m sure might be the situation in some realistic cases as well so it was really well done and I literally gobbled up the entire book in an evening.

What this girl likely wouldn’t give for a normal family

The story features a a young girl, Sarah, of about age 13 or 14, who’s family constantly moves as if they are avoiding the cold season. But one night while she is listening in on her parents, her mother tells her father she “can’t do this anymore.” She can’t stay and watch what is happening to him and what will happen to Sarah. So she abandons them. Selfish!

Things for Sarah quickly degrade from there as her father withdraws more and more and their household falls into disarray. She never realized just how much her mother was the glue that held them together and how much work it was to cook, clean and do laundry. But not only is her father withdrawn but he’s undergoing some changes that might not only be the decline of his personal hygiene. Enter the fantasy element because Sarah’s family is cursed.

What, Since when do I have relatives?

Eventually Sarah’s dad tells her she will be going to live with her grandparents. Things get really strange from here, but in a really cool creepy easy of course.

What else you can expect
– an unusual yet kind stranger
– grudges that just folks just won’t let go
– a talking raven
– multiple family curses and secrets
– finding out just what you’re made of

For lovers of darker middle grade fiction I highly recommend Beastkeeper. I’m rather picky about middle grade books and I asked how well done this one was and the excellent message it delivers to kids.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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6 Responses to “Review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen”


    I simply cannot resist the lure of some Mg books and this happens to be one of them. I have the kindle edition and it makes my heart so happy to see all the wonderful reviews!! Great thoughts Tabitha!
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