Wow, very impressive kindle single. I essentially feel like I read close to a full length Bolton novel, as I found the plot so well developed. I even...moreWow, very impressive kindle single. I essentially feel like I read close to a full length Bolton novel, as I found the plot so well developed. I even enjoyed how she managed to throw in some of Lacey's love-angst, yet in such a way the regular Bolton readers who miss the single will be unlikely to feel the loss with her next novel, due out shortly. (less)
I didn't realize until a couple pages in (I just bought the single sight unseen) that this was a prequel of sorts, when Chet and Bernie meet. Lots of...moreI didn't realize until a couple pages in (I just bought the single sight unseen) that this was a prequel of sorts, when Chet and Bernie meet. Lots of fun, especially Chet's thoughts about the cat. (less)
There really isn't a whole lot of mystery to this book - not that I think it would necessarily be categorized as such - as you know from the first pag...moreThere really isn't a whole lot of mystery to this book - not that I think it would necessarily be categorized as such - as you know from the first page that Marnie, on the day of her fifteenth birthday, and her younger sister Nelly bury their parents in their back yard. With such an opening I anticipated I would know what happened to them by the end of the book, (view spoiler)[as in, who exactly killed Gene, but Marnie's ultimate reasoning about that is enough of an explanation for me. But the "facts" were never firmed up, which was okay because (hide spoiler)] but ultimately the details of what happened to Izzy and Gene - they are the most heinous people in the book, if not the world - don't matter in the least, because the story is all about the relationship between the sisters and also their relationship to the shamed and lonely old man living next door, Lennie. There's even a dog, for my personal entertainment, but he doesn't have much of starring role other than horrifying the girls by digging up various parts of their decaying parents.
The story is told in short chapters from either Marnie, Nelly, or Lennie's perspective. O'Donnell gives all three distinctive, unique, and very engaging voices. Honestly, I couldn't pick a favorite. Could you?
Nelly: "I admired his roses first and then his door, painted and glossed and with a brass nameplate. Our own door is bashed and broken, the window smashed and boarded. A dreary state of affairs. He smells of talcum powder, is possessed of china cups and matching saucers. He uses side plates for breads and for cakes. It was all rather wonderful. Pristine. Polished. I played the violin later. Something forced upon me in the end. Marnie must always have her way you see and with no regard for one's temperament. If only she knew of my nightmares and of the dancing violin waking the dead from their slumber. If only she had seen them rise from their graves as I have, waltzing to a melody of my making."
Marnie:"Riding past on your bike boys will give you the once-over and someone might whistle, but mostly no one cares about a girl riding her bike, it's too hot, they just want to be still and bask a little. They want to stretch out on the grass and listen to some music. They want to pull out the paddling pool for the weans and sit with their babies and their girlfriends and some want to do their washing, but mostly they want to love. Snogging and sunshine go hand in hand in good weather, so does shagging under a blanket and come winter there will be a lot of lassies with big bellies. Glaswegians don't need the darkness of a nightclub to live it up or get it up; consequences are words for teachers and lawyers, sometimes judges."
Lennie:"It happens fast when it comes for you, the callous quickening, the blood stilling, the breath falling swift as a swallow. I held you tight then, bound you petrified to a life withering and anchored in silence, but you escaped me and a quiet calm embraced the room, a kindness drawing you close and letting you go. The passage of a gentleman."
As other reviewers have noted, despite the (very) darkness of the story and the narratives, The Death of Bees does end with optimism, but don't let that make you think you won't pay for that ending with apprehension and loss and tears, as most very good stories do.(less)
Somewhere, and I've read enough reviews of this book while anxiously awaiting its release so I'm not sure where, this novel is described as a cross be...moreSomewhere, and I've read enough reviews of this book while anxiously awaiting its release so I'm not sure where, this novel is described as a cross between The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Time Traveler's Wife. Having sped through the book in only three days (a record given my recent lack of time for reading), I can only imagine the writer of the comparison did so because Time Traveler's has, obviously, time travel in it, and The Girl has a young woman determined to avenge the bad things that have happened to her. Both of which this book has, though avenge isn't really an appropriate word, even, as Kirby is looking for the man who attacked her it seems, at first at least, more out of fear, curiosity, and justice for herself and her dog, and never necessarily anticipates vengence. Other than those two distinct elements, I cannot imagine the basis for comparison. Instead of attempting to amalgamate other books to describe one instead of just letting it stand on its own merits, I appreciate it when a reviewer attempts to describe a book more originally, or at least simply.
Difficulties about this book? That there's no basis for Harper's motivations, though he's clearly a bad person to begin with, which could have been a good enough excuse, and certainly no explanation of the origin of the House. I'm not sure that there has to be, but it does continue to be a series of nagging questions that can distract from the story. And don't read it if you're sensitive. It's difficult, not just on the blood and gore level, but on a distinct and talented level of making the reader imagine what it must be like to feel and think as the victims did.
And the most difficult things about the book: work, sleep, making dinner - you know, those annoying things that keep you away from a deeply engrossing story.
I loved the characterizations, I enjoyed the inclusion of (view spoiler)[a believable and root-able romance (hide spoiler)], despite the tenderness of doing so in such a disturbing story. The writing was simple but beautiful, thrilling and engaging. I adored the different personalities and trajectories of the shining girls, and quickly became attached to most of them (view spoiler)[though one, strangely, we never get to know until after her death by way of interaction with her mother and this makes her distinctly less sympathetic than the other girls (hide spoiler)]. I can't imagine this not being a best-seller and I was so thrilled to score the first hold place at my library. Perfect "summer read," whatever that means anymore.(less)