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Of Bees and Mist

Average Rating 4
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(29)

2 Star

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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 July 1, 2009

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    Adult Fairy Tale?

    I started this book with an open mind. It had a magical opening with a haunted house covered in mists. However, the story line did not live up to expectation. It is neither a fairy tale or a myth. It is a story of a couple of dysfunctional families and how they destroyed each other. The ending was anticlimatic. There was no "moral" as in fairy tale, and it did not give a mythical tale to explain "This is how........."

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2009

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    Strange, to say the least

    Meridia grows up in a family where her mother and father both treat her horribly. Her parents seem to forget that Meridia even exists. She then meets Daniel and hopes that her life will change for the better. She moves in with Daniel's family and soon things are worse than they were with her own parents. Daniel's mother is wonderful at first, then her true colors start showing and Meridia is stuck between her husband and her mother-in-law. It is a war and both women are determined to win...

    I am probably the only person on the planet who didn't just love this book! I thought it was just plain strange. There are lots of unusual things happening in this story from mysterious mists, to swarms of bees, and all kinds of other strange things. I got frustrated with the never ending obstacles facing Miridia-she goes from one battle to the next. She never seems to catch a break and it gets old after a while. The characters were vibrant and very real, but the story just didn't do it for me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2011

    Very weird

    Trying to make myself finish this for book club, not even a third of the thru and don't know how much more I can read.

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  • Posted July 31, 2010

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    Bridget's Review

    Merida's parents are void of emotion. She doesn't hear I love you's and she doesn't know what it's like to be loved unconditionally by a parent. She was was raised by her Nurse who unexpectedly is told to leave.

    Falling in love with the man of her dreams she begins to feel truly alive. Marrying Daniel seems like a no-brainer. Thinking that her in-laws are the picture-perfect family she has always dreamed of, she is shocked when she finds out that this family is just as dysfunctional as her own. She had no idea she was leaving one hell for another.

    I was a little iffy about this book. It was interested and well written but it lacked a certain oomph that I was hoping for.

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  • Posted April 23, 2010

    Not for everyone

    A great book for group discussion because of all the symbolism, in fact if you don't like symbolism, don't buy this. It was hard to get into at first, but once you figured out what the bees and the mists represented, it was very good. I felt like I was in Japan, the author painted the town, and the houses to where you could see them, and I've never been to the far east. Not everyone will like it, but everyone should read it because it is so different.

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    A pleasant read

    I enjoyed being transported to a mystical land. Our auras can have such devestating effects on those around us.

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  • Posted August 9, 2009

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    didn't work for me

    Of Bees and Mist" is a fantasy novel, what with the ghosts and sprits and the magical occurrences. But if you take away the ghosts, and the bees and the mist, what you have is a story about three generations of two families united by marriage and their relationships with one another. Since one woman, Eva is very controlling (not only of the bees) but her husband and children, it is all about her and the demands she makes. I could not get into the story at first, but then it became quite intriguing and then again, it lost my interest at the end. So, all in all it was an okay book. Still can't figure why the author, Erick Setiawan added ghosts, bees and mist in it though.

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  • Posted July 22, 2009

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    Not my type of book, but enjoyed it..

    I normally wouldn't choose this type of book to read, as I didn't enjoy the Harry Potter series (I know, what's wrong with me..), but I did enjoy it as I got into it. The first few chapters were a bit slow and hard to get through, but I persevered because I enjoyed the characters and the style of writing. I became more interested as I read on, and liked the passion of the women over the three decades it covered.

    The story line is a roller coaster of mystery and emotion, which is what held me...and kept me reading.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

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    Reminds me of One Hundred Years of Solitude

    I was fortunate enough to participate in the Barnes & Noble First Look Club for Of Bees and Mist.

    The book was reminiscent of One Hundred Years of Solitude. Except that it focused on three generations. It struck me that the author doesn't like men much - the male characters were either weak or distant.

    Though the book is a bit slow at the start, but then the book built up well. I recommend this book.

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  • Posted July 6, 2009

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    Unusual and magical First Look read

    I discovered Erick Setiawan's Of Bees and Mist through Barnes & Noble's First Look Book Club. I would not have found or read the book otherwise because it's not my usual type of book. This is my first experience with the First Look Book Club and it was a very interesting one.

    I found the plot and characters unusual with the unexpected appearance of magic, symbolic mists, flowers and animals. I read on hoping that the relationships and problems would ease up. (Spoiler alert!) Although they did not, the book draws you in and becomes very absorbing.

    While it's an enjoyable read, it is not a light one. I'd recommend it when you're looking for something different from the usual read.

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  • Posted July 5, 2009

    Great Idea Gets Lost in the Imagery

    Bees and Mist is a very ambitious novel. I loved the opening chapters. The unusual setting and imagery were very engaging. However, about halfway through the book I got tired of the imagery. It seemed to have become a shorthand way of dealing with the emotions of the main characters.

    When Meridia was a child, the imagery worked perfectly. However, as an adult, the constant harping on bees and mist became grating. That being said, it was well worth reading.

    The characters are interesting. Meridia is a very strong character. She challenges you to keep reading. I did find Eva bit boring toward the end. She didn't change or grow. Perhaps that was what was intended.

    All in all it's an interesting read and well worth the effort it takes to engage the symbolism.

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  • Posted July 1, 2009

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    Fantastical Fiction

    If you like your characters cloaked in magic and are drawn to fantastical plots, then this is the book for you! Void of setting (in the sense of an indentifed era and locale), this mystical story leaves a great deal to the imagination. I'll admit, this Look Reader struggled with that; however, Erick Satiawan's poetic writing style kept me reading 'til the very last word!

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    A promising debut

    Billed as a fable, of Bees and Mist is, for me, a world unto its own, you explore this world with a young lady named Meridia as your traveling companion. Meridia's world is strange in that her parents don't talk to each other, she sees ghosts in mirrors, her mother tends to ignore her and cooks all day and her father is cold and severe. She marries a young man named Daniel who happens to have a disfunctional family as well. All is told through metaphors and symbolism, for example the bees and mist show up quite often.
    I do like Erick's style of writing and many of his lines are lyrical and memorable, however, authors as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Laura Esquival who specialize in magical realism are different in some way from bees that I just can't put my finger on yet. Maybe in both circumstances the author's provided more answers and less ambiguity than Erick. If you like to fill in the pieces using your own imagination this book is for you. As this is his first novel I expect to see great things from Erick in the future. ( )

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  • Posted June 15, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    A good first novel

    I was able to read an advance copy of this book as part of the Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club. Of Bees and Mist falls under the genre of "magical realism". It's reminiscent of Alice Hoffman and Isabel Allende. But it's colorful descriptions and magical elements are used to tell a story that is real and universal. Bees and Mist are used to represent spite and betrayal. The story is about family and its trials and tribulations. How adversity is dealt with and how powerful resentment and spite can be. It is also about love and redemption. The author is very descriptive, the story has no definitive time or place which makes it very appealing and allows the readers to use their imaginations. I felt that the end dragged a bit but I would certainly read another book by this author and would recommend this book.

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