Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel
Black Birds of the Gallows Series
Entangled Teen | September 4, 2018
About the Book: 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.
First of all, how stunning is that cover?! I didn’t read Black Bird of the Gallows -yet. Still, I couldn’t resist requesting Keeper of the Bees on just the cover art alone. I’m not usually someone in love with watercolor, but in this case it resonates with me. There’s a dreamy quality about the cover that matches the horror of Dresden and the delusions of Essie. I love it so much.
Now, onto the story itself. I wasn’t really sure what I got myself into when I started reading. Keeper of the Bees has a very strange narration. It’s both stunted and flowing, and I’m not sure how the author even managed to make those two adjectives work in the same novel. It did work though. The prose made the story standout, and feel almost classical. It just fed the beauty of the characters, and despite both of their curses they were both emotionally beautiful.
It’s odd to think of a character like Dresden as beautiful. He’s a real life monster who, at the start of Keeper of the Bees, has become jaded after centuries of being cursed as a beekeeper. He stopped caring about who his bees sting, and the destruction those poisoned with madness leave in their wake. Dresden is not a murderer, he just provides the fuel to push those who are evil over the edge. It isn’t until he gets to know Essie he begins to care again. I liked Dresden so much. I admit, I’ve always had a thing for brooders, but Dresden has some real reasons to brood. He was stolen, cursed, and has walked among massacres for centuries. He’s earned the right to walk under a dark cloud. What I like even more was how he set the cloud aside once he met Essie and forged a new connection with her.
Essie was so original too. I hate to say I loved her curse, because it was awful. What I loved was how the author described Essie’s hallucinations. The pink bubbles that float out of her mouth when she laughs was almost a perfect way to describe the light inside Essie. I also loved how much I cared about her, even knowing she was an unreliable narrator. Due to Essie seeing things that aren’t real, we’re left not knowing if what she sees is something we should remember. It definitely made for a more interesting plot, and it also kept me from solving the serial killer mystery. I really liked being fooled.
I think the only reason I’m not giving Keeper of the Bees 5 stars was because of the romance. There were moments I was hooked by their relationship, especially with how fragile Essie felt paired with the ancientness of Dresden. However there were also moments when I was dissatisfied. It was instalove, but it was unhurried. Maybe my issue was I wanted more relationship closure and I didn’t get that. I think maybe we needed an epilogue. I needed more of a commitment in the end. Time to see Dresden and Essie after the dust settled.
Maybe it’ll come in another book. I know I want Michael’s story next. And, I can’t wait to go back and read Black Bird of the Gallows. The lore in this series is spectacular. I’m hooked.
Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Sounds really interesting!
It was really good!
I also usually don’t like watercolor, but it is a really pretty cover! And I too have always liked the brooders 😛 That’s interesting, I actually liked how the relationship thing ended because it felt healthier to me than if they had rushed into, but maybe you’ll get that closure in the next book 🙂
It was healthy, it just felt odd. It was hard to describe, I guess.