book reviews by Althea

Beastkeeper – Cat Hellisen ****

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I suspected I might be in for a treat when I read the dedication page on this book, which mentions the author’s two children: “Tanith and Noa.” Tanith? You named your KID after Tanith Lee? This book CANNOT be bad!

And indeed, it is quite excellent. I wouldn’t say it’s derivative of, or even particularly similar to Lee’s writing, but the aesthetics are all what I love.

It’s a contemporary fantasy, but it succeeds very well in meshing the timeless beauty of fairy tales with a modern setting.

Sarah is a young teenager whose family is collapsing around her. At first a reader might assume that her neglect is simply the sad but typical effect of divorce and depression on any family: her mother’s abandoned them, and her father is incapable of keeping up even appearances. But once Sarah is bundled off to live with the grandmother she’d always been told was dead, in a crumbling, decrepit tower in the middle of nowhere, gradually we learn that there’s more to it than this: her family is the victim of a curse – and Sarah herself may be the next one to be destroyed by a bitterness and rivalry that has come down through generations.

Beautiful writing; highly recommended for everyone who loves stories based in folklore and fairytales.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Henry Holt and Co. for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.


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