Of Mist and Bees by Erick Setiawan

Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism
Format: Hardcover, 404 pages
Release date August 4th 2009 by Simon & Schuster
Find it on Goodreads here

Of Bees and Mist is an engrossing fable that chronicles three generations of women under one family tree and places them in a mythical town where spirits and spells, witchcraft and demons, and prophets and clairvoyance are an everyday reality.

Meridia grows up in a lonely home until she falls in love with Daniel at age sixteen. Soon, they marry, and Meridia can finally escape to live with her charming husband’s family—unaware that they harbor dark mysteries of their own. As Meridia struggles to embrace her life as a young bride, she discovers long-kept secrets about her own past as well as shocking truths about her new family that push her love, courage, and sanity to the brink.

My thoughts

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I found Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan in a local used bookstore. The cover was eye-catching and it seemed right up my alley. I love books about magic, hexes, and sorcery. What I got was something totally different. Yes, there is an aspect of that in here, but not in the way I thought it would be. The mysterious mist that keeps appearing in the chapters was intriguing. I kept reading to see what it stood for, what it all meant. But the story started to ramble and headed in a different direction than what I was anticipating.

I really did like the character development. Both Meridia’s mother and Daniel’s are wicked and look out for the best interest of their own child. Something that many married couples can relate to, but Of Bees and Mist took family hatred to whole new level. Because this is a story of two families who dislike one another, it started to fill the typical storyline pattern. The fight between the Montagues and Capulets all over again.

After a while, the evil mothers and constant anger towards everyone really wore me out. Call me a hippie, but I can’t stand listening to people bicker over and over, especially in a book that is 404 pages. It seemed like the magical part of the book would break this up a bit, but even that was evil spells being casted just to piss the other person off. I wanted some relief and even the miracle of their growing family didn’t do it for me. All that did was made people argue even more! It seemed like there was no resolution for having some type of peace.

The mist was a bane to peddlers and visitors alike, for it often held them suspended in midair, stole their hats, or chased them away with terrifying noises. Inside, the house obeyed a law of its own. The wood floors echoed no sounds of footsteps, and people simply appeared in doorways without warning.

The imagery and descriptions are beautiful. I could imagine myself walking into Daniel and Meridia’s shop. The description of the town made you able to smell the flowers that were always blooming and see the leaves dancing in the wind. The love between Daniel and Meridia was real. Romeo and Juliet to a tee, the exact type of story I love to read. I appreciated that the young couple tried to put up a fight against the hate. But how do you stop your mother from constantly being mean to your wife? Quite the predicament that nobody ever wants to live in real life.

The book’s abrupt ending caught me off guard. It was so wide open, you could end it however you wanted to (if that makes any sense at all). The drawn-out plot development and constant snippy arguments made the book seem to go for pages before getting to the juicy details or any resolution. If you enjoy books surrounding family drama with a mix of magical realism, I would suggest it. I’ve found that this is the type of book where you either love it or hate it.

Do you like family drama books like this one? Any suggestions for me to add to my list?

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