Of Bees and Mist: A Novel

Of Bees and Mist: A Novel

4.1 187
by Erick Setiawan
     
 

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• An escapist’s delight: Readers of magical-realist fiction will instantly be captivated by this fairy tale that is richly evocative of the lives of women and their complex relationships. Of Bees and Mist takes place in a nameless town during a timeless era, where spirits and spells, witchcraft and demons, ghosts and clairvoyance—both real andSee more details below

Overview

• An escapist’s delight: Readers of magical-realist fiction will instantly be captivated by this fairy tale that is richly evocative of the lives of women and their complex relationships. Of Bees and Mist takes place in a nameless town during a timeless era, where spirits and spells, witchcraft and demons, ghosts and clairvoyance—both real and imagined—are an everyday reality.

• Distinctive, outstanding women’s fiction: Part female-driven family saga, part love story, Of Bees and Mist centers on Meridia, who tries to escape her alienating childhood and mysterious parents by running away at sixteen to marry a tenderhearted young man, whose family is harboring secrets of their own. Setiawan takes readers through a tumultuous thirty-year journey of hope and heartbreak as Meridia’s capacity for love, courage, and sanity is pushed to the brink. Filled with fantasy and melodrama, Of Bees and Mist is an epic story of family and friendship, of secrets and magic—a story that is altogether touching, honest, and entirely memorable.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Setiawan's debut novel spans 30 years in this heartfelt magical-realist story of two rival families living in a mystical world that transcends both time and place. Meridia is a lonely child; a mysterious incident when she was an infant has torn apart her parents, leaving them sharing nothing but a cold, mist-filled home. Not until Meridia meets the charmer Daniel, at age 16, does she finally feel loved. They marry and move in with his family and at first Meridia loves her life in Daniel's home. But she quickly learns of matriarch Eva's deceitful, manipulative ways and her power, both natural and supernatural, which she uses to control her family. When Meridia rebels against Eva, finding unexpected support from her parents, the rivalry solidifies and a lifelong battle begins. As time passes, Meridia faces heartbreak and betrayal, becoming a strong, fiercely independent woman. While filled with fortune-tellers, ghosts and unexplained phenomena, the relationships between the various characters are true to life so that fans of fantasy and fiction lovers alike are sure to enjoy this magical tale. (Aug.)

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Library Journal
This is the story of the worst mother-in-law ever. A young woman from a bizarrely unhappy home finally thinks she will find freedom in marriage to the young man of her dreams, but it turns out that his family is even more bizarrely unhappy, and his mother is the most vicious harpy imaginable. Over the years, the two women engage in an epic battle over everything from food to family and nearly destroy all they hold dear in the process. All of this happens in an unnamed magical land (apparently inspired by the author's native Indonesia), where the bees are spies and the mist is sentient. Despite the feeling of "once upon a time," the characters have things like kitchen appliances and photographs, but women are still treated (and behave) like children. The story is almost operatic in scope—the only motivations are jealousy, greed, and thwarted love, and everyone has the emotional maturity of a 13-year-old. VERDICT This debut reads like a fairy tale for adults but somehow lacks the humanity of similar magical realist tales (e.g., Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate and Isabelle Allende's The House of the Spirits). Optional.—Jenne Bergstrom, San Diego Cty. Lib.
Kirkus Reviews
Magical spells, strange demons and one utterly impossible mother-in-law drive the plot of a moody fairy tale set in no particular time and place. Meridia, the heroine of this debut novel, grows up in a large and curious home: Its staircase has a habit of lengthening every so often, and powerful mists are capable of pulling unwanted visitors away from the front door. But beneath this strangeness lies some very common familial dysfunction. Gabriel and Ravenna, Meridia's parents, are barely on speaking terms, and rumors abound that Gabriel has taken a mistress. Understandably, Meridia grows up eager to escape. As a teenager she falls for Daniel, whose mother, Eva, busies herself tartly abusing nearly everyone she meets. When her ire is especially stoked, usually toward Meridia, Eva can call on a swarm of bees to punctuate her passive-aggressive fits of pique. This book is largely the story of a decades-long war between Eva and Meridia, and on occasion the magical setting effectively emphasizes how corrosive the relationship is. But the uncanny touches are haphazardly deployed, and the book is largely a flat narrative about in-laws who don't get along. Squabble follows squabble as Meridia attempts to escape Eva's clutches; Eva strikes back; and Daniel behaves as a milquetoast, uncertain of the truth of either woman's accusations. Those bees occasionally serve as a useful symbol of the wages of self-doubt-they tend to swarm in whenever Meridia questions Eva's judgment-but the mists and ghosts that appear seem to serve little purpose other than to modestly enliven a simplistic, repetitious story that makes Meridia's virtue nearly as tedious as Eva's viciousness. Setiawan unconvincingly inflatesa tiny narrative into a supernatural epic. Agent: Alex Glass/Trident Media Group

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416598480
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
08/04/2009
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
238,021
File size:
0 MB

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