Published by Entangled: Teen on September 4, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Love & Romance, Paranormal, Young Adult
Format: eBook, Hardcover
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I voluntarily reviewed an advance review copy of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel is a companion novel to Black Bird of the Gallows. Returning to Ms. Kassel’s world of harbingers, beekeepers, and strawmen, Keeper of the Bees is a story about a centuries old beekeeper who was cursed when he was eighteen and the girl who actually sees him, not the monster he’s become.
Dresden as a beekeeper has a hive of bees living within his chest that sting people with weak minds and makes them crazy. He’s followed by the harbingers of death, a murder of crows, to Concordia where the town is marked for death. As he awaits the event that will bring death to those in Concordia, Dresden’s bees find people to sting, but when his bees want to sting seventeen-year old Essie Wickerton, Dresden finds that he can’t let them, especially when she sees what he really is and is not afraid. Instead, she calls him pretty!
Essie Wickerton is cursed, or rather some of her family is cursed with delusions and hallucinations, while others are normal. She has moments when she cannot tell whether what she is seeing is real or not. So when she sees Dresden’s many face changes when he appears, she obviously thinks she is hallucinating, but when he proves to be all too real and standing right in front of her, Essie can’t look away or make herself feel afraid. This moment between Essie and Dresden starts the absorbing story of Ms. Kassel’s Keeper of the Bees, with its twists and turns, which made me want to keep reading until the end.
I really enjoyed Ms. Kassel’s world-building in her first book, but I think it grew in more detail in this novel especially with the details about the beekeepers and Strawmen. I also liked the mystery about Essie’s family and learning more about Dresden and how he became a beekeeper. These really added to the novel, and I like how it moved and was well-paced. If you read the first novel, you know there is an event that will lead to death amongst the townsfolk in Essie’s town like plague or natural disaster. So having another plot to move the story along involving the characters was great.
Dresden’s relationship with Essie and his friendship with Michael were what I loved about this story and the added bonus of seeing familiar characters again was awesome.
Overall, Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel was a wonderful companion novel and completely stood out on its own. I am hard pressed to say which book I liked more, but I may be leaning towards Dresden and Essie’s story. I very much recommend reading and if you haven’t read Black Bird of the Gallows, I’d recommend that too. Can’t wait to read more from Ms. Kassel.
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.
Don’t Miss Out and Check Out Book One!