Customer Reviews for

Of Bees and Mist

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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 4 people found this review helpful.

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 th...
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.

posted by katknit on June 25, 2009

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    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 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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    of Bees and Mist

    First off, the cover of this book is amazing. The story is timeless. The magic is interwoven so seemlessly that you could really believe it. The symbolism in this book really kept me on my toes with meaning and double meaning. This book is a fairy tale for grown-ups.
    Although the main character of the story is Meridia, how she grows up, marries young and becomes a strong women in her own right. Erick Setiawan did a remarkable job in also telling the story of Ravenna, (Meridia's mother) and Eva, (Meridia's mother-in-law) and how all three shaped the lives of their families and those around them.
    Mr. Setiawan's style of writing was easy to follow and made this book a totally enjoyable read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2009

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    A remarkable debut and a magical journey through life

    Of Bees and Mist opened up a world previously unknown to me. A world where women can grow herbs out of their arms and chest, mist haunts the front door, and men can swallow vegetables whole and spit them out chopped, seasoned and pickled.

    There was something almost fantastical about the writing style. For some reason, as I read the book, which flowed with a surrealism and slight goth-like feel, I was reminded of children's stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (atleast the happy Gene Wilder movie version) and Neverending Story.

    You know how I can tell that I really like a book? I find myself taking notes while I read, wanting to make sure that I quote a favorite passage and get down my feelings at a particular moment. Much of my review on a "great book" is written during the reading of the book, so everything is fresh. I did that a LOT with this book.

    I guess this book wasn't really anything like I expected, and quite honestly if you were to give me details about it ahead of time I probably never would have read it. I wouldn't have expected to find a book written with such fantastical flavor, and which at times can be somewhat dark and heavy, so charming. Really a lovely and impressive debut by Mr. Setiawan. I look forward to seeing what rabbit he has hiding up his sleeve next.

    I jumped right into this book without really even taking in the cover art. Someone in the book discussion pointed out all of the hidden pictures to be found in the cover art-- pictures that are like little windows into Meridia's life.

    This book follows the often sad and bewildering life of Meridia, swallowed up in a world reminiscent of a Harry Potter book. You really feel for Meridia, and just want to take her in your arms and shelter her. You keep waiting for someone to do this. "Where is her protector?", you keep wondering in frustration. "Where is her shelter from the world? Her lee from the wind? Will no one be her champion?"

    I've said in the past that I'm not a "book club" kind of gal-- that I don't want to sit around and discuss books and symbolism. I just want to read a good story. I have to say that this book has shown that not to be entirely true. This book is FULL of symbolism, and I found that I LOVED it. Additionally it was a wonderfully good story and kept me totally absorbed.

    A remarkable debut novel, and highly recommended. Love it, love it, love it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is an interesting adult fairy tale parable

    Meridia's home contains all types of magical spells and demons; not all kind. She thinks she will escape her hell of her dysfunctional battling parents when she falls in love with her knight in shining armor. She knows Daniel will rescue her.

    However, Meridia had not counted on his family especially his mother making her parents look harmonious. Eva is abusive to everyone but especially her new daughter in law. She uses bees as spies and weapons of mass destruction. Her treatment of others including Meridia has her finally fighting back as Daniel fails to intercede between the two women in his life.

    This is an interesting adult fairy tale parable that exaggerates Meridia's overall purity and the evilness of her parents and mother-in-law; the spouse is a wuss who chooses neither side in the extended family war of good and evil. Ghosts and killer bees add excitement to the mix, but Meridia as victim in her parents' home and Meridia as victim in her husband's home is too frequent with little respite as Erick Setiawan argues that adhering to the Golden Rule does not mean others will likewise. Still sub-genre readers will enjoy the war between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law while the man who links them stays docilely neutral.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    The title is intriguing yet simple. It's a pull to open the book and discover what the two words produce.

    The beginning was confusing for me. I realized that I had to let myself be "in the story". Then I was able to understand and appreciate the characters. All the characters were strong; and I found myself projecting what would happen only to be surprised later. It was an exciting story and I look forward to other works of Mr. Setiawan.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2009

    Vivid imagery throughout

    Meridia lives in a world that weaves midevil times (there are no cars), present (there are telephones) and magic. I was sucked in instantly by the wonderful writing and imagery throughout. Meridia is a lonely child who doesn't have much contact with the outside world until she meets Daniel at a street fair at the age of 16. She falls in love with him instantly and they marry. At first, everything is wonderful, but soon enough her mother-in-law intrudes upon their happiness. Meridia, using skills learned from both her mother and her mother-in-law, is able to withstand the barrage of torment while remaining a sympathetic character. The story may be a little cliche, but I felt the characters were well-developed and believable and I had a hard time putting this one down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2014

    Love

    Love

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2014

    Wonderful

    Strange but beautiful

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Great book

    Erick Setiawan has a wondeful imagination. Amazing characters that come to life from the authors creative style and fairy tale-like story. I loved this book and am looking forward to reading other books he may write.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2012

    Favorite adult fairy tale

    Read literally and be prepared to fall in love with amazing charaters. When you can relate character traits to people you know, you know you have found a good book.

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  • Posted July 20, 2011

    Wonderful story

    Loved this book!!

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  • Posted July 3, 2011

    Haunting and unusual tale - a must read!

    I love reading books about the paranormal and this book did not disappoint. I truly enjoyed it.

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  • Posted May 24, 2011

    Creative

    Great story, will stay with you.

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  • Posted January 2, 2011

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    loved it

    its hints if magic and and a wonderful story about life is wonderful

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  • Posted December 11, 2010

    An amazing, must- read!

    I picked this up in an effort to get my work hours to go by faster, I must say, I'm thrilled I had! This book completely captivated me the first chapter in, wasting no time and jumping right into the story. The intense, fast paced story kept me turning each page as the drama and emotion poured out of every chapter, page, paragraph, sentence, and word. The impossible relationship between Meridia and Eva, the intense love between Meridia and Daniel, and Meridia's care and love that bloomed with every sentence towards her mother, Ravenna left me speechless. I could not leave a room without this book securely in my arms. This enticing tale was full of wonder, deceit, and reckless emotion. Cleverly composed in third person, it enables the reader to get a glimpse into the thoughts and emotion of almost every character. Just when I thought the book was about to let my anticipations down, it smacks me in the face with something completely unexpected easily making it my absolute favorite book! I don't need to tell you twice how fabulous this book was, the story is a complete masterpiece, unique and priceless, in my opinion.

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  • Posted November 4, 2010

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    Men can write about women, and well too!

    Oh my goodness, what a fantastic novel! I have to admit, I was quite the skeptic going in. I wasn't sure if a male writer could portray the dynamic of three generations of women realistically. Setiawan proved my doubts wrong. Not only did he create realistic and enjoyable characters, but he also created a world I could get lost in.

    Before I read Of Bees and Mist, I heard the story called a "magical realism" by few. That phrase is easy enough to figure out what it means just by hearing it, but I didn't fully understand what magical realism was until I read this story myself. This is quite the world Setiawan has created. It is very much like our world, accept magic is just a normal part of life. Also, the reader is never told where the story takes place. There is nothing in the story that points to a certain place in time. It could be in the past, present, or future. I think that helped add to the fantasy side of things.

    In the middle of this world full of spells and witchcraft and all kinds of magic, you also have these characters with normal human problems. The heart of this book is about family drama. Neglectful parents, cheating spouses, crazy ass mother-in-laws... if you don't deal with any of these problems yourself, you are bound to know someone who does. The characters made mistakes, and some (one in particular) you honestly want punch in the face a few times, but that made them so realistic. I could sympathize with each character on a different level.

    I absolutely adored Meridia. She was strong and wouldn't let people walk all over her, but she was also compassionate and took the higher road. She wasn't perfect by far, but that made her the perfect protagonist. I really loved how she first thought that by moving in with Daniel's family, she would finally have that perfect, happy family. Of course, she finds out Daniel's family has problems of their own. I think a lot of us feel like we have a messed up family, and we assume other families are so much more "normal". Every family has their own problems to deal with, and life is about overcoming them. I enjoyed being on Meridia's journey as she discovered this for herself.

    The ending leaves the reader with the beautiful promise of hope. Of Bees and Mist stayed with me and still had me reeling over it long after I finished the last page. This was a remarkable debut for Setiawan. As long as he continues writing stories like this, I will continue reading them.

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  • Posted October 11, 2010

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    An Atmospheric, Haunting Favorite!

    Every word in this novel is to be savored and pondered. The book weaves magical realism throughout, with colored mists, ghosts, bees, fireflies and events that could be real or imagined. I also found myself wondering throughout the novel just when exactly the book takes place. If it weren't for the few mentions of colored movies, I would guess the events transpired during the Victorian age. Also, while somewhat gothic & utterly atmospheric, the setting could have been a mid-sized town located almost anywhere in the world. The characters were richly depicted, with a web of family relationships, gossip, lies, conjecture and deceit. Somewhere in there, you'll find unconditional love sprinkled throughout. Of Bees and Mist was a novel that kept me turning pages long into the night and left me wishing that I had time to read it all over again. A favorite!

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  • Posted August 10, 2010

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    Reviewed by LadyJay for TeensReadToo.com

    Meridia is a young girl when she meets Daniel, the man who will sweep her off her feet. What follows is nothing short of a fairy tale. And, just like in all good fairy tales, there is struggle, heartache, and redemption.

    Meridia uncovers secrets in her family as well as Daniel's. Spells, charms, witchcraft, demons, prophets, and clairvoyants are an everyday reality in Meridia's world. Colorful mists whisk her father away, and her mother's cooking can heal almost anything that ails you. Her mother-in-law also possesses strange powers; her vindictive, evil ways manifest themselves into a swarm of bees that attempt to pull Meridia and Daniel apart.

    Meridia must use all of her strength to keep her family together, and mend the broken parts of their lives.

    I was truly amazed by this novel. I am constantly drawn to fairy tales, and though this novel reads like one, none of the content seemed far-fetched. Erick Setiawan was able to create a world where the unbelievable seemed completely possible. It was easy to get lost in the story because of that.

    At the heart of this tale are three women - Meridia, Ravenna, and Eva, and how their relationships color their world. It is also about strength and the true meaning of love. It is beautifully told, and a joy to read. A fairy tale for the modern era - brilliant!

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  • Posted May 7, 2010

    One of the Best Books since 100 Years of Solitude for me

    I picked this up randomly from a paltry selection of books in English when I was stuck in Italy during the Icelandic Volcano eruption, which meant I couldn't get home and had run out of reading material. This book is almost 500 pages, but I carried it everywhere once I cracked it open. It was fantastic, just fabulous and astonishing. I cannot believe a man could write so beautifully about women, in all their nobility and feelings and evil traits alike. I am sending a recommendation to read it to everyone I know. If you like Isabel Allende or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, this book is for you. It's magical.

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  • Posted March 17, 2010

    This book will take you away. . .

    I purchased this book after reading a review in a book club that caught my interest. The story brings you to another world full of whimsy, magic, love and pain. The story is beautifully told and thoughfully written. The authors own personal story is just as interesting and inspiring. You will find that if you lend out your copy that you certainly will want it back for keeps!

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