Of Bees and Mist: A Novel by Erick Setiawan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Synopsis: Raised in a sepulchral house where ghosts dwell in mirrors, Meridia grows up lonely and miserable. But at age sixteen, she has a chance at happiness when she falls in love with Daniel-a caring and naive young man. Soon they marry, and Meridia can finally escape to live with her husband's family, unaware that they harbor dark secrets of their own. There is a grave hidden in the garden, there are two sisters groomed from birth to despise each other, and there is Eva-the formidable matriarch and the wickedest mother-in-law imaginable-whose grievances swarm the air in an army of bees. As Meridia struggles to keep her life and marriage together, she discovers long-buried secrets about her own past as well as shocking truths about her new family that inexorably push her love, courage, and sanity to the brink.
Of Bees and Mist chronicles three generations of women under one family tree over a period of thirty years-their galvanic love and passion, their shifting alliances, their superstitions and complex domestic politics-and places them in a mythical town where spirits and spells, witchcraft and demons, and prophets and clairvoyance are an everyday reality.
Review: I had a hard time with this book in the beginning. I wasn't sure if I liked it or if I just didn't get it. I kept at it and I'm not even sure when it happened but I started loving it. Maybe I just finally got into the groove of the story, understood the symbolism, I'm not sure, but this is an outstanding book for a first time author.
I'm not sure I can fully identify what it was about this book that sucked me in but the characters were well developed and the secrets and manipulation that go on between these two families is amazing. Meridia's mother-in-law is by far the most wretched woman I have encountered in a book in a long time. I wanted to throttle her on more than one occasion. Meridia's family drama shows how bitterness can ruin so many lives.
This is just a beautifully crafted book and once you fall into the groove of it, it sweeps you off your feet. Several other reviewers have compared this book to Roald Dahls work and I can pinpoint what it is but there is that feeling of other-worldness to it that mimics a lot of Dahls work.