Book Review: Beastkeeper

I present to you for this week's Middle Grade Monday: Beastkeeper, a Beauty and the Beast retelling in which the Beast is the girl and fairytale rules are broken. I bolded the line in the summary that won me over. I was second guessing the book before but I was intrigued by that line. 

Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
Published: February 3rd 2015 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: Library
Format: eBook
Rating: 4 out of 5

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. 

Sarah's life is good. Her parents love each other and they absolutely adore her. She likes that her parents are different. They aren't tied down by money and see no reason to buy fancy cars or big houses. She's been moving around all her life for a reason she doesn't necessarily understand but has accepted. Sarah's gotten used to moving and can even predict the exact day her parents will pack up from the geometry of dandelion seeds' flight in the air. Everything is good. Until the day her mom walks out. The shock is so big that the only reason Sarah can come up with is: the cold. Her dad becomes depressed. He stops talking, stop taking care of Sarah, and forgets to eat. This is where the beauty starts. The magic of the book is tied with the dark elements. 
She lost her mother to the cold and the winds, and now her father was also lost, lost to some strange sickness that ate away the inside of his head until he wasn't anything like her father at all, just a beast wearing his skin like a coat.
The writing is gorgeous. I loved how the author presented real problems as magic. Depression being her father's transformation and the cold as a symbol of a relationship without love. This book is dark. It's about unhappily ever afters. It tells the story of how jealousy turns into a big game of revenge that got so passionate it became impossible to end. Beastkeeper shows the realistic side of fairy tales. Where people's dreams are the worst thing that could happen to them. Where people fall in love with the image of true love but not with the actual person. It's about the dark side of human nature. The author calls out these conditions and intertwines it with magic. THIS IS MY MOST FAVORITE PART.
It was a jolt.
A strange moment when the world stayed exactly the same, and changed forever.
It felt like an invisible firework.
And Sarah's bones shifted just the slightest bit under her skin.
Since this is a middle grade book there's no big emphasis on romance for the protagonist. But the summary obviously promises you something, I mean that's the big part of the story. This curse looms over Sarah's head. If I could describe this book in one word, it would be bittersweet. Sarah sees the ugliness of humans and deals with it like a brave little girl. It is amazing and SO BEAUTIFUL. I can't emphasize how beautiful this book is!

This is a book about the cruelty of loyalty, love, and forgiveness. I highly recommend this to everyone. It's NOT your usual happily ever all but has the satisfaction of fairy tales and retellings.
If you did/do read this amaaaazing book but get a little confused at the curse (which no shame, because I was too), the author wrote a short prequel online HERE.
It's about the story of Igna and Freya falling in love and how everything went downhill.

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