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Tale As Old As Time

Cat Hellisen's Beastkeeper is a lovely and melancholic middle-grade retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Tale As Old As Time

BOOK REPORT for Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Cover Story: Montell Jordan
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Tale as Old as Time
Bonus Factors: Retelling, Talking Animals
Relationship Status: Bound Together

Cover Story: Montell Jordan

This cover is so gorgeous I want to frame it and hang it on my wall. There is nothing that I don’t absolutely love about it, from the colors to the silhouettes to the creatures lurking in the castle and trees.

The Deal:

Sarah knows when it’s time to move, just by a certain quality in the air or a faraway look in her mother’s eyes. She’s moved every year for as long as she can remember. When her mother suddenly leaves her and her father to fend for themselves, Sarah starts looking for answers. But before she can find out what’s happening, her father sends her to live with grandparents she didn’t even know she had, deep in the woods.

Where is her mother? Why did her father abandon her, too? Why is her grandmother so cruel, and why is her grandfather locked away in a room? Sarah suspected her family was under some sort of curse, but she couldn’t have guessed that when she falls in love, she will turn into a beast…forever.

BFF Charm: Yay

Sarah is determined, curious, and brave…and she’s only thirteen! When she’s sent off to live with people she barely knows in a castle full of secrets, she doesn’t let that stop her from trying to unravel the mystery of her lineage. Heck yeah she gets my BFF charm.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

This isn’t really a swoony book, but there is a charming, mysterious boy who helps Sarah find her answers – and it’s impossible not to swoon over him a little.

Talky Talk: Tale as Old As Time

Hellisen’s prose is perfectly suited for a modern fairy tale. It’s not flowery, but rather peppered with gorgeous descriptions such as “She could well believe the half-fallen castle was as thick with ghosts as it was with dust and cobwebs,” and “Sarah took a hesitant sip of her tea. It tasted like a toothache.”

The sense of atmosphere Hellisen creates, especially, takes this from a mere middle-grade novel that maybe your little sibling would enjoy, to a timeless fairy tale that anyone could love. It’s not just a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but a story of family, jealousy, betrayal, and rising above certain legacies.


Bonus Factor: Retelling

I love a good retelling, whether Shakespeare or fairy tales, and especially the way Beastkeeper is an interesting twist on a classic tale.

Bonus Factor: Talking Animals

Am I the only one who finds Disneyland sinister, and not just because it costs $99 just to get in? All the talking animals just aren’t right, I tell you, and neither is the one that appears in this book. It’s deliciously creepy, but I’ll be staying away from Golden Gate Park at night.


Casting Call:

Megan Charpentier as Sarah

Ross Lynch as Alan

Nix the bleached-blonde hair, and he’d be perfect for a charming trickster living in the woods.

Maggie Smith as Nanna

Relationship Status: Bound Together

I’m totally under your spell, book, and I couldn’t put you down even if I tried.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Henry Holt & Company. I received neither money nor a pet unicorn for writing this review, despite how hard I wished for one.  Beastkeeper is available now.

Jennie's photo About the Author: Jennie Kendrick lives in San Francisco and has an excessive fondness of historical fiction, spreadsheets, turquoise sparkly things, and bourbon. When she's not reading, writing, or writing about reading, she cooks obsessively, runs an Etsy shop, and thrifts for vintage everything.