BEASTKEEPER by Cat Helligan [Review]

Beastkeeper was a middle-grade twist on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. But despite this being told from a thirteen-year-old’s point-of-view, this is no happy tale. This is a bittersweet story of love, loss, and magic. And also a talking white raven.

(Now we all know this is a plus for me because I LOVE ravens. And birds in general. I’m a fanatic.)

➸ Writing

Hellisen’s writing style is very poetic without being too ornate. I adored her use of similes and metaphors, the pretty nouns and verbs she would use rather than an overdose of adjectives.

Sarah tiptoed along the landing towards her parents’ room and wondered what flavor silence was, and if it grew hard and brittle if you threw it away, or if people sometimes stepped on wads of discarded silence and stuck it to the soles of their shoes and made their footfalls softer.

I loved her style, however there was more showing rather than telling. At least twenty-five percent of the story was told in other stories, rather than the main character, Sarah, learning herself. Don’t get me wrong, I love when another character drops a bomb on the main character by telling the real story–I’ve written scenes like those myself–but when the novel is this short, I think it was excessive.

“People fall out of love slower than they fall in, to be sure, but there’s the story no one wants to tell. It’s dull. Boring. The good ones don’t always win. Nothing lasts forever.”

BUT STILL THESE QUOTES. So many pretty words, guys.

➸ Plot

Sarah and her parents have always been on the move, running away from the cold. Sarah knows her parents are running from some kind of magic, but she doesn’t realize what until her whole life suddenly turns askew.

Despite being told Beastkeeper is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, it didn’t seem to have many elements of the classic tale, which is fine. I actually like when books diverge from the original story. But as I said before, it just felt like barely anything happened.

This book could have been a whole one-hundred pages longer and given more depth to the story. There was so much more I wanted to explore, rather than having the key points shown to me flat-out.

➸ Characters

With the amount of action and lack of pages, I felt like I came away not knowing much about the characters. I knew about a few likes and dislikes, but that was about it. The characters were created well, though I think they needed more page-time to truly blossom.

Again, I think the biggest loss with this book is it wasn’t long enough to give significant depth to anything. I like short reads, but I think this should’ve been paced differently because of the length.

➸ Overall: ★★★

This was a good book and an interesting retelling. If I wasn’t in the midst of finishing my own book, I would’ve finished this about a week ago. So if you’re looking for something quick and/or a fairy tale without all of the happy, bubbly magic, then give Beastkeeper a go.


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