Beastkeeper by Cat HellisenBeastkeeper by Cat Hellisen


byCat Hellisen

Hardcover | February 3, 2015

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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.

Cat Hellisen lives in Cape Town, South Africa. She is also the author of When the Sea Is Rising Red.
Title:BeastkeeperFormat:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 8.53 × 5.75 × 0.79 inPublished:February 3, 2015Publisher:Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0805099808

ISBN - 13:9780805099805


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cat Hellisen weaves with magic and mystery One thing that Cat Hellisen does in her stories is immediately sweep readers away into her worlds that feel so tangible they might just exist on the very edge of our own, and this is the case with Beastkeeper. Though the story is aimed at children, and at a glance it’s a re-envisioning of Beauty and the Beast, it’s very much appropriate for those of us who’re young of heart, and there was much here that spoke to me as an adult. Sarah’s parents have never set down roots, and she’s spent all the years of her short life constantly moving to new towns and new schools. Consequently, she’s a lonely child and doesn’t have any friends. Her parents are everything to her, so when her mother leaves the family one night, she is devastated. To add to her burden, her father falls apart at the seams too, and it’s up to Sarah to keep things together – going to school and ensuring that the household limps along. She finds refuge in her “Not-a-Forest”, a small vacant lot where she meets a strange boy, who may or may not become a friend – only he knows more than he’s letting on. She doesn’t have time to find out, however, as her father packs their life up and takes Sarah to go stay with her grandparents, who live in a run-down castle in the middle of a menacing forest. Here she discovers how her family has existed under a curse for years, and that she and her father are also trapped within the cycle of maleficent magic. We follow Sarah as she tries to unravel the knots of hatred and obsession that have poisoned her grandparents and destroyed the lives of her parents, but in order to do so, she needs to be brave and travel through some truly dark places. As always, Hellisen seems to effortlessly touch on the universality of fairy tales to delve even deeper and bring up underlying themes. One one level, this is a children’s quest to break a curse. On another, it’s a parable of how twisted love has soured to hate and indifference, and how one young person can find it in herself to step outside the trap of a destructive cycle. This is a dark, painful and elegant tale, made all the more beautiful, because Hellisen weaves with mystery and doesn’t hand over all the answers on a plate.
Date published: 2015-06-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sweet, Magical, and Mysterious Beastkeeper is sweet, magical, and mysterious. Secrets and curses abound, their power continuous and their reach overwhelming. This is the story of one young girl discovering the shadows in her family's past and working fast before they envelop her as they did her parents and grandparents so many years ago. Sarah's voice is a charming one. She's a clever and lonely girl, observant and on her own after years of never staying in one place long enough to make any lasting friends. But she's happy with her parents, until her mother leaves in the middle of the night. Until her father begins to change. Until she's taken to her grandparents. Then she's lost, scrambling to understand what's happened and what went wrong. There's a hidden strength in Sarah. There's a time or two when she gives up, but there's also a time or two when she doesn't, when it hurts so much to carry on but she refuses to quit. The secrets parents keep from their children. The shadows they run from with their children. The harm they do to their children. Sarah doesn't understand why her mother left, why her father left her with, essentially, strangers. She doesn't understand because they never told her the truth, thinking instead they could run from it, that she would be safe from it. Parents can care for and protect their children, yes, please do this, but keeping those very important things from them is never good. Children know when something is wrong and they will call adults out on it. They will see through it, see through you, and start to wonder if they're no longer safe with you. Curses and choices and consequences, they're such inescapable things. We run from them, hide from them, try and trick them and sneak around them. But they're always there, waiting to continue the circle that never ends. Until someone comes along and makes the most difficult decision to end it all. I can see where the retelling is, where the bits and pieces of the story of Beauty and the Beast are, but the author twists it and makes it something new. Almost like a retelling and a brand new fairy tale at the same time. This book is sweet, light, fun, serious, dangerous, and filled with magic.
Date published: 2015-01-30

Editorial Reviews

"Hellisen's novel sparkles like a classic fairy tale, even as it plumbs unpleasant truths." -Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW"Beastkeeper is a bright, beautiful sliver of a novel . . . Every page shimmers with magic." -VOYA, STARRED REVIEW"A wild, unique fairy tale." -Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW"Elegant, lyrical, and startling." -BCCB, STARRED REVIEW"*An intense look at the seeds of rebellion and the individual consequences they sometimes reap." -BCCB, starred review on When the Sea Is Rising Red"Hellisen's first novel combines the survival tactics of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games books with a fascinating array of magical creatures and powers." -Booklist on When the Sea Is Rising Red"Hellisen's captivating debut will haunt readers." -School Library Journal on When the Sea Is Rising Red"Hellisen creates an interesting world where magic and superstition rule." -VOYA on When the Sea Is Rising Red"Debut author Hellisen's style features evocative descriptions and unflinching detail." -Publishers Weekly on When the Sea Is Rising Red"The worldbuilding intrigues, and the open-ended conclusion begs a sequel." -Kirkus Reviews on When the Sea Is Rising Red