Author: Cat Hellisen
Genre: middle grade, retellings
Published: February 3rd 2015
Source: publishers for review
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.
Lyn: Hi! Thank you for doing this. I really love co-op reviews.
Jessie: No problem! It’s been a while since I’ve talked with you GI ladies about books.
Lyn: Yeah! We need to snag you a bit more.
Did you get a chance to finish the book?
Jessie: Yes! Finished this morning.
I really liked it, buuut I didn’t LOVE it.
Lyn: Yah! So did I. I slacked off to read ACOTAR.
Same! It was good but it was a bit too sad and violent
Jessie: GAH I HAVEN’T EVEN OPENED THAT BECAUSE IT’S SO FAR AWAY AND ALL MY FRIENDS ARE READING IT I HATE YOU ALL.
Lyn: And we love you!
Jessie: Yes! I don’t mind the sad parts but it just never really made an impact? I never really empathized. Something in the writing was too.. distant. Removed.
Lyn: I get what you mean. I think that was the main issue. I wish I had known the characters a bit more, like the dad and the grandparents.
The story was lovely and the writing was fantastic. I felt that the world building and the characters needed a bit more attention.
Jessie: Yes! So little of them is shown — like the mom. I get that she misses her mom because she was her mom, but make the character more… real.
Agree wholeheartedly. Cat Hellisen is such a good writer that I am so sad to have not connected more. But her talent cannot be denied.
Lyn: Exactly! I wanted to feel the loss a little more. These people were strangers to me, so I really didn’t feel the loss myself.
Jessie: Yep. There were just surface reactions and no real emotional feel.
Lyn: I really hope she keeps writing! Her prose is so beautiful and spot on.
I am glad that someone else felt that the characters needed a little more substance.
Jessie: Have you read her first novel? It’s YA and longer with great characters.
I also really liked how she changed up the Beauty and the Beast story. Girl for a beast, romance is not quite what you think/expect..
Lyn: No! I thought this was her first. My mistake. I am going to have to go get that one.
Jessie: It’s called When the Sea is Rising Red. Odd little book.
But I loooove it.
Lyn: Oh! Yes! That was one of my favorite things about the story. She reversed the roles. Hooray for not applying the beauty to the woman right away!
This is terrible. I actually own that book.
Jessie: Aahahahaha #bookbloggerlife
Lyn: I love how she treated romance in this story. It was a real kick to see an author do something a little different. To use her own words! She brushed off some of the fairy tale sugar.
Right? So many books. This is so terrible.
Jessie: She did. Which is why I liked the darker aspects — even for a MG — and also how she figured things out on her own. She had to work for it — it wasn’t just some simple reveal from Freya/Inga.
Lyn: She was certainly far from helpless. And I loved how dark the tale turned. I didn’t expect that out of an MG novel.
She took a fairy tale trope and turned it not a fairy tale. More like a Grimm tale.
Jessie: Me either. I thought it would have a little bite, but this definitely had TEETH.
(hahaha I find myself hilarious)
Lyn: lolololol. You beast!
Jessie: I’m a real bear when it comes to humor
Lyn: You are so cheesy. You make me howl with laughter
Jessie: You get real PECKISH when I am funnier than you
Lyn: We are so adults.
Jessie: No I am not you can’t make meeeee
Lyn: Before I forget to leave it off, I was very sad about the animal cruelty. It was just so sad to me.
On a better note, I was happy that there was no main villain, and the surprise twist honestly took the air out of my lungs.
Jessie: Ah yes. That was a tad much.
YES! I also enjoyed that. I love when a twist is pulled off without being too leading/allowing readrers to figure it out waaaay ahead of time. Not the case.
Lyn: I agree! So many times, I see it coming. When this twist popped up, I had to read the passage three times just to make sure I wasn’t getting that wrong.
I loved the message about forgiveness and how tough it really can be to a young person.
Jessie: How she admitted it was hard but did IT ANYWAY.
Lyn: So many times, forgiving someone and moving past it is like a cake walk. Easy, sweet and overly cheery.
Jessie: Sarah was great. In so many ways but that was one of her best moments.
Lyn: This book really showed how it is honestly so hard to move past something that hurt you and rebuild your friendship with someone.
I would have given this book 5 stars if I had just knew the characters a little more.
Jessie: Mine is a solid 3.5 but I can agree.
Lyn: Because I like that the author didn’t treat romance and first loves like some sacred thing. With her story, she was able to send a message that love can wax and wane, and sometimes love isn’t enough to overcome some darker things in your life.
Jessie: YEA. Like how Eduoard was human sometimes after!
Lyn: Same here. 3.5 stars. But I do hope more people read it. It was something completely different and fresh.
YES! I applaud and author for pointing out that love isn’t concrete or black and white.
Jessie: Same here. I will give my ARC to my sister’s 5th grade class.
Lyn: So many times, love falls right into the grey area
Aww! I think there are going to be some happy little girls. Just because they are kids doesn’t mean that they deserve only fluffy happy novels. You need something to clean off your reading pallete. One cannot live off of dessert books constantly.
I am a huge supporter of giving kids some hard topics. Fifth grade is a perfect level. If I recall, that is the level where they really start to delve into some of the less savory parts of US history, such as slavery and the bill of rights.
Jessie: Yes! “Dessert books” is such a good way to describe them. HEA are fine but life is not always that way.
Lyn: I am going to start using this more often.
Anything else you want to cover? I let my fingers get carried away.
Jessie: I approve!
Lyn: YAH Jessie Seal of Approval!!
Jessie: No I think I am good!
We pretty much had a lot of the same reactions.
We are one and the same!
Lyn's rating: 3.5/5
Jessie's rating: 3.5/5