Beastkeeper

First Lines: The air was full of ice the night Sarah’s mother packed all her bags and walked out.  That was the thing Sarah remembered most.

I feel like it is my job here at Belle of the Library to read and review every Beauty and the Beast knock-off that catches my attention (not that I’m complaining).  This one came free from Scholastic once in my orders and I thought it was a short (192 pages) read and I’d give it a try.

Sarah has lived a gypsy life, since her parents want to pack up and move every time the seasons change.  Her mother hates the cold, so every few months she’s ready to move again.  This nomadic life has made Sarah lonely and dreaming of magic.  But magic is what her parents are running from.  When Sarah’s mom walks out on them, an old magic flares up into their lives.  Her father begins to change into something beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he drops Sarah off at her grandparents’ home, grandparents she’s never met.  Deep in the forest behind the home, Sarah begins to untangle the curses that are layered on her family until she discovers the curse carries over onto her too.  The day Sarah falls in love will be the day she changes into a beast…unless she can break the curse first.

Truly, this isn’t a bad story. There was just an even mix of things I liked and things I didn’t.

Let’s start with the positives. This story turns a few fairy tale tropes on their heads. I don’t want to go into too much detail because the surprises are good. But the obvious one is key to the plot. In Beauty and the Beast, the prince becomes a beast until he learns to love and earns the love of another. In this story, love is what changes them into beasts. It’s a really interesting twist that played out better than I expected.

And speaking of twists, there are a few interesting turns in the plot from the characters as well. Basically, this book takes the cliche and makes you rethink the way you thought the story would go.

The characters were just ok. There wasn’t a whole lot of depth to them, and very little character development to boot. They didn’t seem to talk like normal people either. That part felt like an old-style fairy tale where it was basically entirely a moralistic tale. You know what I’m talking about, the, “Once upon a time, there was a princess who loved books” etc. etc. Very basic, and the characters talked a bit oddly.

The only reason I think this was the case was because this book seems to be targeted to younger tweens, like 9-13 maybe. It’s entirely clean; it just has a younger protagonist than I normally read. So that might explain the simplistic writing.

Overall, I thought its twist on a classic fairy tale was interesting, but I probably wasn’t the target audience and that skewed my perception of it.

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