Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Summary from NetGalley:
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.
ARC received from Entangled: Teen via NetGalley for an honest review.
This is a companion novel to Black Bird of the Gallows, which I read and reviewed last year. You don’t have to have read the first one to enjoy this one, but I do recommend it. There are Harbingers in this book and to fully understand their role in this world you need the first book which explains it well. I remember when I read the first one that I really wanted to learn more about the Beekeepers, so I was so excited when I saw this story devoted to their mythology.
This book is a paranormal romance, but there is a lot more to it. It has to do with falling in love with a person despite their flaws. There is a lot of angst surrounding the two main characters and their feelings for each other. In fact Dresden spends much of the time telling himself that he can’t get involved with Essie because of who he is and how that could harm her.
Essie was a perfect romantic partner. I felt very sorry for her, she spent much of her time trying to decide what was real or a hallucination. Loved her relationship with her aunt Bel. Very loving and her aunt was great with her support. So was Essie’s grandmother who was also afflicted with the Wickerton’s family curse. It was a nice family of women who know how to support each other. Nice to see. Essie’s hallucinations are very descriptive and reflect how she feels about what is going on around her. Like her slimy psychiatrist who she always sees with a forked tongue and devil horns.
Dresden was my favorite character. His history was fascinating and having to live with your face always changing and bees living inside gives him an interesting take on life. We do learn a little bit about how the harbingers and the beekeepers were made, way back in history when magic and science were somewhat the same thing. His life before becoming a Beekeeper helped to shape who he became and how he relates to Essie. I also enjoyed the fact that he was friends with one of the harbingers, Michael. That was a very interesting facet of Dresden’s life.
I continue to really enjoy the writing style of the author. Very descriptive and the world building is suburb. This is definitely a series to pick up especially if you like stories that are slightly macabre and somewhat creepy. Even if bees freak you out a bit, this is such a good story you don’t want to miss it.