Friday, June 14, 2013

Review of “Of Bees and Mist” by Erick Setiawan

“Of Bees and Mist” by Erick Setiawan is an enthralling read from the first page. It was first recommended to me through Amazon and Good-Reads. I have reread it a great deal and enjoyed it every time. It is a young adult story and also Setiawan’s debut novel which may come as a surprise because the language reads like it was written by a distinguished author. The book is told in the third-person but the main focus is on the life of Meridia.

The story begins with Meridia as a child. Her father, Gabriel, is presented as a cold and numbing character who is impossible to win attention or love from. It is shortly revealed that every night he leaves in a cloud of mist and returns home the following morning in the mist; he having a long-standing affair with another woman. Her mother, Ravenna, is no exception with her private dark language and obsessive behavior. The house, like the parents, is always filled with a bitter coldness to where Meridia can never remain warm for very long. Needless to say, she lives a very abnormal childhood.

The story transitions into Meridia’s life as a young adult where she meets Daniel. It seems unreal when she finds herself taken by his charm. She then learns to cherish his mother, Eva, whose laughter brings her warmth, appearing to be everything her own mother is not. Later in the story, Meridia realizes that Eva is the one responsible for keeping people awake durring the night, torturing them with the sound of a thousand buzzing bees. Daniel’s two sisters, Malin who is spiteful, and Peremony who is gentle and kind, are the family she envies. Meridia becomes Daniel’s bride through a sacrifice on her own mother’s part.

After having married Daniel, the plot of the book begins to take an unmistakable turn. For the remainder of the story, Meridia spends a majority of her time arguing with Daniel, feuding with Eva, re-establishing her relationship with her mother, protecting her sister-in-laws, and finding the answer to Gabriel’s secret.

The setting of the book is a mystery in that Setiawan never gives the reader a name, only the title of streets, estates, markets, and festivals; however, the language makes-up for it. It truly is an outstanding novel for those who enjoy fiction, literary, fantasy, young-adult, or those who enjoy stories with a fairytale-esque ending to it.

by Matthew Benton