cover image Beastkeeper


Cat Hellisen. Holt, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9980-5

Thirteen-year-old Sarah is lonely, and it only gets worse after her mother leaves following a late-night argument. Sarah’s distraught father lets the house fall into disarray and soon sends Sarah to stay with her grandparents. To Sarah’s shock, her grandmother lives in a ruined castle deep in the forest, but that’s nothing compared to meeting a talking white raven and discovering that her grandfather has been transformed into a beast, “great and gray, with coarse fur like matted wires, teeth as long as her fingers, eyes like lost planets.” With the help of a slippery boy named Alan, Sarah searches for a way to free her family from the complex web of curses afflicting them all. Blending modern-day problems and ancient magical curses, Hellisen’s (When the Sea Is Rising Red) novel sparkles like a classic fairy tale, even as it plumbs unpleasant truths. Sarah is precocious, independent, and strong-willed, and the story brims with thought-provoking insights and lyrical descriptions for readers to sink into—especially those who, like Sarah, dream of finding magic in the mundane. Ages 12–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Feb.)