Title: Keeper of the Bees
Author: Meg Kassel
Genre: YA Paranormal
Release Date: September 4th 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Beauty and the beast like you’ve never imagined!” —New York Times bestselling author Pintip Dunn
KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.
Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.
He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.
Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.
Purchase Links: https://entangledpublishing.com/keeper-of-the-bees.html
About the Author
Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson’s School of Design, she’s been creating stories, whether with visuals or words, since childhood. Meg is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. As a fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, she has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart® winner in YA and a double 2018 RITA® finalist for her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows.
“They’re watching, wondering what game I’m playing. But this is no game.”
Keeper of the Bees is a wonderful follow-up to one of my favorite books of 2017, Black Bird of the Gallows. It follows the life of a beekeeper, Dresden, who locates to a new town and meets an interesting girl, a girl unlike any other. A girl with a surprising backstory.
Once again, Meg Kassel has written a beautiful book. Keeper of the Bees is just as good as its predecessor, if not better. Her writing is spectacular and enchanting; every description, every scene, had beautiful prose. The world Meg has created is incredible and will capture your attention from the very first line. Black Bird of the Gallows sets the stage for this world, and Keeper of the Bees follows up wonderfully. Told in a dual perspective of Dresden and Essie, you won’t want to put this book down. I devoured this beauty in a little over a day because it’s just that good.
“I blink down at her, then realize I had forgotten how my face is a mess of changing features. For a few precious moments, I was just here with her. Not a monster. Not a killer.”
The aspect of the beekeepers is unique and quite interesting. They are immortal beings that have a horde of bees in their body that have to listen to these bees when they want to sting someone. And the stings are lethal, if not deadly. It makes people grow violent and sets them on a dangerous rampage. And when a person is killed from a bee sting, the beekeeper takes the form of their face. As in, the beekeeper’s face is constantly shifting to those of the people his/her bees have killed. And it’s a feature Dresden has come to hate, as he no longer remembers his own features.
Dresden is one of the most interesting characters I have read. He has many conflicts that a beekeeper usually never has to deal with. And his conflicts only increase when he comes across a girl his bees desperately want to sting. The only catch: he doesn’t want to sting her. Dresden is instantly drawn to her and her interesting quirks. For one, she has the ability to see Dresden, like actually see him, as most humans cannot see his shifting features. With her interesting backstory, Dresden can’t seem to stay away from her, especially when he learns a surprising fact about her family. And especially when he starts to feel things he never thought a beekeeper could feel.
“This will destroy you. The Strawman’s voice threads through the chaos of my mind. I’ve been destroyed many times, I think in return.”
Essie is also another captivating character. She has what people believe to be a family cruse, as no treatment has been proven to work on what doctors call her “sickness.” Essie sees things that should not be there, which is why she at first believes Dresden is a figment of her imagination. But when he turns out not to be, she becomes enthralled in his world. Mental health is a constant topic in this book, but it’s talked about in a way that doesn’t scorn or degrade mental illness. Keeper of the Bees captures how people with mental illness are treated and it’s sad at how true it really is. But even so, I love how this book openly displays the truth with mental health.
The relationship between these two characters will easily become a favorite for many readers. They are both experiencing something new and fragile, and it’s something amazing to see unfold. Seeing their relationship reminded me of Beauty of the Beast, which is one of my all-time favorite love stories.
All in all, Meg Kassel has outdone herself with Keeper of the Bees. She has created a uniquely breathtaking world and so many lovable characters. I can’t wait to see what is in store next (hopefully more from this world!)
All quotes are from the advanced reader copy and may not be in the final book. Thank you Entangled Teen for the advanced reader copy and YA Book Tours for the amazing blog tour!
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