Friday, December 4, 2009

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan~★★★

Author: Erick Setiawan
Of Bees and Mist
Release Date:
August 4th, 2009
Simon & Schuster

Book Jacket: "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 new family that inexorably push her love, courage, and sanity to the brink.
Of Bees and Mist is an engrossing fable that 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. Erick Setiawan's astonishing debut is a richly atmospheric and tumultuous ride of hope and heartbreak that is altogether touching, truthful, and entirely memorable."

Taryn's Review: This book started out very dark and depressing, but there was something intriguing about the way Erick Setiawan wrote the book that kept me reading. My heart ached for the loneliness that Meridia suffered through and that, combined with the supernatural realm of the book like ghosts, mists, and premonitions, seemed like it would make for an interesting story so I kept reading.

Quickly, the book turned into a story we all know. Lonely girl fell in love, moved out to escape a bad family situation only to find her mother-in-law is a monster-in-law who was desperate to hold onto her son. But what kept me going was the magic and mysticism of the book. You really don't have a clue when or where the story takes place, but it works. It had a hint of 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez to it, but it wasn't to the same caliber as that book.

The book kept throwing secrets out which made me want to keep reading. I think the family struggles in the book are aspects of life anyone can relate to, even if ours aren't as extreme as Meridia's situation.

However, the book is long. I was very frustrated when Daniel returned to his mother, Eva; how many times does someone need to see the truth before they really believe it? The book had some strong symbolism and underlying themes, but honestly, I wasn't in the mood to decipher it and just enjoyed it at face value. I wouldn't say I loved the book, since it was hard to connect with (I mean, bees swarm around, mists carry people away, fortune tellers are summoned), but it was fascinating to read and held my attention well. I don't know that it will stick with me, but it was worth the read.

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