Customer Reviews for

Of Bees and Mist

Average Rating 4
( 184 )
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5 Star

(74)

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(69)

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(29)

2 Star

(9)

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(3)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

My Favorite Book for 2009

Erick Setiawan's debut novel Of Bees & Mist will take you on an epic journey to a mystical place. Prepare to suspend your disbelief and be jolted to an unfamiliar time and place where your imagination will be required to work overtime. This new author's creative skill i...
Erick Setiawan's debut novel Of Bees & Mist will take you on an epic journey to a mystical place. Prepare to suspend your disbelief and be jolted to an unfamiliar time and place where your imagination will be required to work overtime. This new author's creative skill is unquestionably evident in his evocative imagery which will have you really hearing the buzz of angry bees, smelling the lingering scent of verbena and finding your vision obscured by colored mists.

This dark fairy tale features many engaging characters but mainly traces a character called Meridia. She grows up in a cold, lonely and loveless home full of deceit and humiliation. During her childhood she struggles to uncover the mysteries of her parents' marriage and the mists which strangle their home. When Meridia marries she moves into a new home that is not what it initially appears. She is forced to engage in an ongoing war with her spiteful mother-in-law in order to preserve herself and the love of her husband. Over and over again she must reach inside herself and connect with her inner strength in order to survive.

There are many bizarre elements in this book which can be interpreted metaphorically or literally. The strange occurrences seem to dramatize the dynamics within a dysfunctional family and describe negative emotions as they would look if released visibly. The mist which hovers over the house also hovers over the book in general. I loved the ambiguity of the time and place in which the book is set. The more questions a good book evokes in our minds the better. I enjoy a book that is open to numerous possible interpretations because you can interact with it more. You can play with the ideas, language and setting in your own mind and build upon the scaffolding put up by the author. Of Bees and Mist is such a book.

Setiawan's book depicts the universal theme of good against evil. It has a very dramatic feel in the way it slowly builds up to a crescendo. His unique interpretation of the theme places the battle in a fantasy realm and on a domestic scale. Essentially this book is about real family relationships; the hate, jealousy, betrayal, manipulation and ultimately love that binds people together. Of Bees & Mist is a timeless book that not only invites numerous readings but will echo in your subconscious long after you have savored every word.

posted by Adeline79 on June 22, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Great story lost in the midst of the magical. 2 1/2 to 3 stars

There is really an interesting story here of the internal struggles for life, freedom, power and love within a 3 generational family. This story could take place in any town, in any time. Erick Setiawan shows real potential in his debut novel. The problem is the mixing ...
There is really an interesting story here of the internal struggles for life, freedom, power and love within a 3 generational family. This story could take place in any town, in any time. Erick Setiawan shows real potential in his debut novel. The problem is the mixing of several genres, from Mystical, to Supernatural, to Realism without really settling in on one and therefore there are some clumsy transitions from one to another that make it hard to follow at times. It is a family drama that, because of the straight forward story telling interrupted with bits of the magical, one might even have a hard time determining where to find it shelved in a bookstore or library. Some of the metaphors are quickly understandable, others will leave you just mystified at what is going on in that scene and why. This book will either enthrall you or frustrate you, or perhaps do both as it did with me. Erick has created great characters, and the pacing is excellent. This story plot of the combining, and conniving of these two families and how it impacts each member of the families is magical but often overshadowed by "the magical" world in which it takes place. It is creative yet confusing at times. The ending left me somewhat disappointed, and much left unanswered. Having said this though, Erick shows a great talent for writing and I am looking forward to seeing where he goes in his career but on this first outing, I think I could recommend it only to those who really enjoy fantasy. Though it would probably not be of interest to the younger readers because of the dramatic family plot line. I wanted to love this book, and so I read it all the way through. Unfortunately, in the end, I neither loved nor hated it. But I will be looking for more from this author in the future. His storytelling ability does intrigue me and he does have a great style. This really good drama mixed up unevenly with fantasy was just not the book for me.

posted by vivico1 on June 26, 2009

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  • Posted June 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great story lost in the midst of the magical. 2 1/2 to 3 stars

    There is really an interesting story here of the internal struggles for life, freedom, power and love within a 3 generational family. This story could take place in any town, in any time. Erick Setiawan shows real potential in his debut novel. The problem is the mixing of several genres, from Mystical, to Supernatural, to Realism without really settling in on one and therefore there are some clumsy transitions from one to another that make it hard to follow at times. It is a family drama that, because of the straight forward story telling interrupted with bits of the magical, one might even have a hard time determining where to find it shelved in a bookstore or library. Some of the metaphors are quickly understandable, others will leave you just mystified at what is going on in that scene and why. This book will either enthrall you or frustrate you, or perhaps do both as it did with me. Erick has created great characters, and the pacing is excellent. This story plot of the combining, and conniving of these two families and how it impacts each member of the families is magical but often overshadowed by "the magical" world in which it takes place. It is creative yet confusing at times. The ending left me somewhat disappointed, and much left unanswered. Having said this though, Erick shows a great talent for writing and I am looking forward to seeing where he goes in his career but on this first outing, I think I could recommend it only to those who really enjoy fantasy. Though it would probably not be of interest to the younger readers because of the dramatic family plot line. I wanted to love this book, and so I read it all the way through. Unfortunately, in the end, I neither loved nor hated it. But I will be looking for more from this author in the future. His storytelling ability does intrigue me and he does have a great style. This really good drama mixed up unevenly with fantasy was just not the book for me.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Uninviting

    Of Bees and Mist is a fairy tale for adults, full of fanciful features meant to symbolize pieces of the life of the main character, a young woman named Meridia. It is also something of a coming of age story. While many readers seem to find the book enchanting, for me the "magic" and metaphors were ludicrously exaggerated. Meridia's life is a misery from first page to last. Her parents come across as barely human, and they raise their daughter in a cold, misty void. Meridia's only "friend", Hannah, is obviously Meridia's inner self, the strength that lies buried within. Her husband is spineless, her mother in law a gross caricature of a harpy from hell (she's the one with the bees, an endless, malevolent supply of them.) The more minor characters are treated as pawns.

    For me, reading Of Bees and Mist was a bleak, disagreeable experience. I cannot recommend it, but would suggest to those considering giving it a try that they read the positive reviews as well, before making a decision one way or another.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not what I expected

    I had the opportunity to read Of Bees and Mist as part of Barnes & Noble's First Look club. I like magic and fantasy, but this book did not 'do it' for me. Yes, I read it all, and went back to re-read parts to see what I was perhaps missing that other readers were getting from it. I never did find that magic. I did find that the over-exaggeration of magic and metaphors got me les and less 'enchanted' with it.

    Of Bees and Mist is a fairy tale for adults. It is also somewhat of a coming of age story for it's main character, Mederia, and her miserable life. Her parents were virtually non-existent for her. Meridia's only "friend", Hannah, was/is too obviously Meridia's internal hopes and dreams. Her husband is spineless and lets his mother dictate his life.

    I cannot recommend reading Of Bees and Mist, despite the many good reviews. However, you may find the magic that was missing for me.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good First Novel - 2 1/2 Stars

    For a first book, it has some strong points. Erick has weaved scents/fragrances theme that evoke strong memories and feelings throughout the story. A strong set of characters cemented the storyline. The best is the character of Eva as the epitome of the evil in-law. I was disappointed in the ending because I would have liked Eva to have a stronger part in the ending. The book could have weaved the magic/mysticism with the real life of the characters better to keep the flow. The characters were so strong that sometimes the mysticism seemed superfluous. I liked that the fragrance theme was continued out til the last section. I liked the fragrances and I thought that the use of fragrance was done well throughout the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    ?

    I wanted to like this book! I have tried to get back into it and finish it a few times, and each time, i come across some confusing mumble of a scene and give up again. With just a few chapters left, i can honestly say i still have no idea what this is about. Save your money and rent it if ur interested

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2009

    Of Bees and Mist

    This was just not my type of book. It was a little too far out there for my taste. It was written well, but I just didn't get a lot of it, hard to believe for me. Hard to tell what era and place the book took place in.

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  • Posted June 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Out of the mist and into ...

    "Of Bees and Mist", a debut novel by Erick Setiawan, has been labeled as a fable that chronicles the lives of three generations of woman under one family tree. A fable it is. There are magical elements peppered throughout the novel - staircases that grow and shrink depending on the emotional state of the climber, mirrors that reflect one's true self, etc.... Additionally, there is symbolism galore. The two major symbolic elements being the bees and the mist. At first, this is a unique twist to the same old story - unloved girl meets boy, falls in love, gets married, clashes with mother-in-law, etc... - ; however, as the novel progress, the incessant droning of the bees became too much for me.
    -----
    At the core of this novel lies a severely dysfunctional family. Love is either non-existent or couched in falseness. Yes, there is first love and the attempt to really love but, I think the attempt to love falls flat and is not really accomplished.
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    I was a bit disappointed in the ending. Namely, with regards to one of the recurring characters. I do not feel that we, the readers, truly understand what she was meant to represent. I was fortunate to read an advance copy of this book through the Barnes and Noble First Look program and participate in an on-line discussion with the author. From that discussion, I expected an outcome to this loose end. Sadly, I didn't get it.
    -----
    On a positive note, Mr. Setiawan provides vivid descriptions of each locale and develops several of the characters to some extent. I say several because, as in real life, some people never change. His use of imagery is nice.
    -----
    If you enjoy magical realism or are interested in discovering a new voice in the literary world, you may want to read this novel; otherwise, go away from the mist. I will keep an eye out for this author's next book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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