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Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan
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Feb 02, 11

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Read in December, 2010

Recommended by Heidi

Reminiscent of Keith Donohue's The Stolen Child, Erick Setiawan's richly atmospheric debut is a beautiful, engrossing fable of three generations of women in two families; their destructive jealousies, their loves and losses, their sacrifices and deeply rooted deceptions, and their triumphs.



Of Bees and Mist is the tale of Meridia -- raised in a sepulchral house where ghosts dwell in mirrors, she spends her childhood feeling neglected and invisible. Every evening her father vanishes inside a blue mist without so much as an explanation, and her mother spends her days venomously beheading cauliflowers in the kitchen. At sixteen, desperate to escape, Meridia marries a tenderhearted young man and moves into his seemingly warm and charming family home. Little does she suspect that his parents are harboring secrets of their own. There is a grave hidden in the garden. There are two sisters groomed from birth to despise each other. And there is Eva, the formidable matriarch whose grievances swarm the air like an army of bees. In this haunting story, Setiawan takes Meridia on a tumultuous ride of hope and heartbreak as she struggles to keep her young family together and discovers long-kept secrets about her own past as well as the shocking truths about her husband's family.



Readers of magic-realist fiction will instantly be captivated by this richly evocative fairy tale. Of Bees and Mist takes place in a nameless town during a timeless era, where spirits and spells, witchcraft and demons, ghosts and clairvoyance -- both real and imagined -- are an everyday reality. Setiawan skillfully blends the real and the fantastical as he follows our heroine over a 30-year time span in which her love, courage, and sanity are tested to the limit.
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