by Cat Hellisen

After 12-year-old Sarah’s mother leaves, her depressed father takes Sarah to... read more

After 12-year-old Sarah’s mother leaves, her depressed father takes Sarah to stay with her grandparents, whom she’s never met. In the old castle where her grandmother lives, Sarah discovers her grandfather is a beast in a cage. Once a vain prince, he chose the prettier of two foster sisters to wed for her beauty rather than love. The other sister cast a spell: He would become a beast if he ever fell in love with his wife. Now his wife, Sarah’s grandmother, is bound to him; she will die if she leaves. In retaliation Sarah’s grandmother turned her foster sister into a white raven, a curse that will last until the death of the one her sister loves the most: her daughter, Sarah’s mother. Meanwhile Sarah’s father, who inherited his father’s curse, has turned into a beast beyond reason because he lost his love, while Sarah’s mother has turned into a wren. The magic and curses are thick and capricious in this fast-paced story, and that’s part of the point: Jealousy and revenge weave thorny, tangled, complex webs, and cutting through them to the heart and the truth of things isn’t easy. Cat Hellisen’s immensely satisfying offering doesn’t end with happily ever after, and it’s richer for it. But smart, spirited Sarah, discovering she, too, has inherited the beastly curse, finds balance and peace, learning to live with the wild inside her. (Ages 11–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

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