September 4, 2018
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.
Each book in the Black Bird of the Gallows series is STANDALONE:
* Black Bird of the Gallows
* Keeper of the Bees
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
Meg Kassel with Keeper of the Bees may have created the best YA sci-fi that I’ve read this year…and maybe even last year. While I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s Black Bird of the Gallows (you can read my review here), it didn’t match the intensity of what I felt for this year’s Keeper of the Bees.
With the love story between Essie and Dresden, Kassel has created unique characters who are not safely drawn. Essie seems to be verging on madness, and Dresden would be the villain in most books. They are attracted to each other the way that magnets are. They see each other as beautiful, even though Dresden knows that most people view him with horror and fear.
To give you an idea of how good this novel is, I finished it in almost one sitting. I didn’t want to put it down. I loved how Kassel wrote Essie and Dresden, not to mention Aunt Bel and the Grandmother. While these are all atypical characters, I felt as if the author had lovingly created them with gentle quirks.
The transformation of Dresden is fascinating, watching as he loses his indifference and discovers love. How he becomes willing to surrender everything for Essie. How he becomes more and more human.
I feel like I’m gushing. I am gushing. I loved this book! Everything just felt right: the characters, the pacing, the writing, the plot—all so good!
Keeper of the Bees is definitely a standalone although Angie and Reece from Black Bird of the Gallows appear in one scene, but not having read that novel shouldn’t affect your appreciation of this one. Read this one!
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
rating: 5+++ out of 5 butterflies
She closes her eyes. Her breath hitches. Then, she does the improbable and throws herself against me, wrapping her arms around my waist.
I am paralyzed. Motionless, breathless in my first embrace in a millennium. To be touched… My eyes close as I tremble from head to toe. The pain is glorious, excruciating.
“Thank you,” she breathes against my chest. “You calm my mind. Why is that?”
“I don’t know.” Speech takes an unbearable effort. I’m overwhelmed in every single possible way—destroyed on a level she can’t begin to comprehend. My arms hover, uncertain how to return her embrace and unsure if I should. Unable to push her away. I feel as though I will shatter if I move, but my arms slowly close around her. One of my hands falls on her hair, where her elastic has loosened. The thin band slips from her hair and falls into my hand. My fingers close around it.
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.