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At the Mouth of the River of Bees

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  2,161 ratings  ·  362 reviews
A sparkling debut collection from one of the hottest writers in science fiction: her stories have received the Nebula Award the last two years running. These stories feature cats, bees, wolves, dogs, and even that most capricious of animals, humans, and have been reprinted in The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and The Secret His ...more
Paperback, 297 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Small Beer Press
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Shaina Manning No!! VERY explicit sexual language in the chapter titled "Schrodinger's Cathouse."

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Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s hard to review a collection of stories, especially as strange and diverse and beautiful as this one. So I will stick with the review of its longest story, its heart as I see it - The Man Who Bridged the Mist, the Le-Guin-esque novella that stole my heart back in 2014 when I first read it, the reason why I bought this book. Just skip right to it, read it - and then go on to read the rest, but let it be your first taste of this book.

To me it’s perfect.

”The Man Who Bridged the Mist” : 5

The very short and dirty review for this collection could be -- when it is good it is very, very good. But when it is bad it is horrid.

I did not love all these stories equally. In fact, several verged on epic fail for me. Which is not hard to do. I am probably the worst reader of short stories. However, those that did work sent me into such shuddering, paroxysms of delight there are no words to express my infinite admiration. My favorites worked so exquisitely on a sub-atomic, cellular level th
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I always love the bizarre fantasy prose of Kij Johnson (the author who brought us the darkly uncanny story Ponies). At the Mouth of the River of Bees is sometimes beautiful, sometimes strange and full of amazing characters and plots that are different each time. I especially loved the author's use of imagery and the almost lyrical tone of some of the stories, and the way each one is brought to life so well. ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015

Sometimes we think we want to know what our dogs think. We don't, not really. Someone who watches us with unclouded eyes and sees who we really are is more frightening than a man with a gun. We can fight or flee or avoid the man, but the truth sticks like pine sap.

Don't be to quick to dismiss genre fiction as escapism. It is a tool in the writer's arsenal that, when properly deployed, can reveal surprising and uncomfortable truths about human nature. It is a method to shake the established con
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was very kindly given this collection by one of my wonderful friends, Mercedes, for Christmas and I have to say I am so happy that I decided to just dive into it. I have been meaning to try out some magical realism or short story collections for quite a while now, and yet haven't known quite where to begin, but I think that this is a wonderful start-point and it has a real mix of stories, voices and bizarre little plots.

Magical Realism is, to me, a fairly 'real' world with one or two things w
Minyoung Lee
Nov 10, 2012 rated it liked it
I have some extreme mixed feelings about this book, wanting to give it both a five star and a one star at the same time. Will compromise with a three, but that score really does not give it justice to the complicated emotions racing through my head right now.

Let's start with the five star review, I thought the writing was for the most part extremely well done, especially for short stories of such diverse range in subject matter. I almost wanted to write like the author! I was especially surprise
While I admire the author's imagination and writing skills, I really only loved one of these stories - 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss. The rest, I tolerated. A few, I actively disliked. BUT, most everyone else appears to love this book, so don't let my opinion sway you.

Some of these stories are available free online, so you can try before you buy:

Ponies -

The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles -

26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss - ht
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
All of these stories are exquisite. And reading them is like reading razors. You don't even feel the cut, then suddenly you're bleeding.

Very highly recommended.

An ARC of this book in PDF format was provided to me by the publisher, given through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.
3.5 stars - Spoilers

This was a bit of an odd read, half of the stories were beautifully written and were utterly engrossing, others were dull despite the lovely prose, and then there were a couple that were just plain bizarre.

-ALSO THE ABYSS. An interesting read, but also somewhat unsatisfying due to the lack of answers at the end. Really enjoyed the carnival setting, the monkeys, and the mystical handing over of the monkey act.

-FOX MAGIC. Surreal and engrossing. Loved the characters, especially
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Absolute favorite was the longest story, "The Man Who Bridged the Mist." Want to read a fantastical story about *builders* instead of soldiers, *and* gender parity? Read that one.

Others I thoroughly enjoyed: "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss", "My Wife Reincarnated as a Solitaire", "Chenting, in the Land of the Dead", "At the Mouth of the River of Bees", and "The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles".

"The Horse Raiders" was also good, but had me screaming mentally at the antagonists until the last page.

Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Turns out I have loved Kij Johnson longer than I thought I had. I first remember reading something of hers and being blown away with "Spar," in 2009. Except, though, it turns out she wrote "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss," which I read and adored (possibly unreasonably) in 2008. And

now I own these two and a whole bunch of other glorious work in this fabulous collection. Also, "Ponies."

"26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" is told in 24 parts of varying length and purpose. It revolves around Aimee, who one
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When I finally closed this book, I sat with the goosebumps for awhile.

It's hard to rate a short story collection five-stars. It's harder still to declare it the best book of 2015. Not every story speaks the same or has the same power. They haunt in different ways. This is true here, but Kij Johnson has done something extraordinary. I don't have words for it - my throat closed a little more with each story. She suffocated me with her story-telling. (I laugh at this sentence - but I shiver too. No
This is a diverse collection of short stories that runs the gamut from beautifully mind-boggling to I-don't-even-know-what-to-say.

The title offering is lovely, touching, and very different. It is the one that will stay with me. "Ponies" tells a disturbing tale of unicorns, rainbows, and mean girls. "Schroedinger's Cathouse" is a variation on the paradox of Schroedinger's cat, employing the use of a much larger box. "The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles" is charming, as seen from eyes of a small
I am in awe. Also in tears. Some of these stories are just devastating. The monkeys! The dogs! The ponies! Sob. While a couple of pieces didn't quite connect with me ("My Wife Reincarnated..." and "Story Kit") and a couple connect but make me queasy (here's looking at you, "Ponies" and "Spar"), the rest move me in a way that more than makes up for those.

I've read "26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss" numerous times before, and still read it three times again when I started this book. I just love the way
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Discussion at Women of the Future group March 2020. Story by story analysis there.

Most stories are about awful stuff, about oppressed and abused women. The common theme seems to be about those women trying to find a sense of self or at least a voice.

I got through it and finally enjoyed the last two stories, which I do recommend:

**The Man Who Bridged the Mist** - Wonderful! Four stars! SF with the What If and the Sense of Wonder. World-building & ideas & characters & even a bit of a love story a
Lynne King
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I purchased this book on a whim because the stories mentioned in the “blurb” looked intriguing and I was seduced by the cover.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first story, even though it was zany: “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”. I hadn’t realized there were so many species of monkeys. I also like zany books on the whole and had been taken with the first ten or so books in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.

The second story here, “Fox Magic”, I enjoyed to a certain extent, although it was very odd and I wa
3.5-4 stars. Well-written short story collection. All the stories that I liked:
- 26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss
- Names for Water
- the Horse Raiders
- Dia Chjerman's Tale
- My Wife Reincarnated as a Solitaire--Exposition on the Flaws in my Wife's Character--The Nature of the Bird--Her Final Disposition
- Chenting, in the Land of the Dead
- The Empress Jingu Fishes
- At the Mouth of the River of Bees (this one made me cry)
- The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles (found on
- The Man Who Bridged the Mis
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It took a long time, but finally here is the first short story collection from Kij Johnson. There are 17 stories, and quite a few of them have won major science fiction awards. I really enjoyed this book. The best part about her writing is there’s always an undercurrent of mystery and things are never quite like they seem. Even though a few stories are weaker, there isn’t a clunker in the bunch.
The themes of the stories show a wide range of topics. There’s a road trip, talking animals, a communi
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
these stories read like a warm fire on a cold, blustery day: they remind you that there is always shelter, if only you seek it out.

First of all, this book is filled with a veritable menagerie of animals: monkeys, horses, ponies, dogs, cats, bees, birds, foxes. And that's only one of the many wonderful things that's in this collection.

I'm trying to encapsulate these stories in a few words, to narrow them down to a handful of themes or subjects, but really, what makes this collection so stellar i
May 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Discriminating palates
Recommended to Alan by: Roberta
There are speculative fiction anthologies and collections—a lot of 'em, actually—that are like bags of potato chips: they're good enough, but what's in them is all one flavor. You can devour one story right after another until you've gone through the whole bag in one sitting, and then it's empty and you're sad and maybe a little nauseated, even, in a pleasurable, stuffed way.

Other books, though, are like boxes of assorted chocolates that you pick and savor one at a time, letting each one melt sl
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
from publisher

Read 7/24/12 - 7/28/12
4.5 Stars - Highly Recommended to readers who have a little of the animal in them and love stories that will turn them to mush
Pgs: 300
Publisher: Small Beer Press
Release Date: August 14, 2012

The thing with short stories? I wish the ones I liked were longer. Like full-length-novel longer.

At the Mouth of the River of Bees is bursting at the seams with great short stories, most of which I was reluctant to see end. Kij Johnson's quirky characters made their way thr
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous, exquisite, and humbling writing. GAWGEOUS. I mean, like... wow. Read this book, read it now. I'll be over in a corner sobbing about my inability to ever write such breathtakingly beautiful short stories. K?

Um... details? Right. So there were a couple Japanese folk-tale-like things that were what I cared for least in the book, though I did like the one about The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles. It paired nicely with the last story in the book, which was about the stories dogs tell after
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Second read 10.2018, 5/5
My opinions on individual stories had changed, but mostly for the better. My absolute favorite one (perhaps the best short story I've ever read) is The Man Who Bridged the Mist, which made me cry in the end, not because it's sad, but because it was just that brilliant. The topics discussed in the collection fit my interests quite perfectly and they are utterly unique, intelligent and beautiful - what else could you possibly wish for.

First read 9.2016, 4.5/5
I was blown aw
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not a huge fan of short stories, although lately I've been trying to explore short story collections like this one based on other people's recommendations, and I've heard that this is an exceptional one. What I love about this collection is how varied it all it, but how all of them feel like they have the same thread and similar tones to it. I love the deep, dark, somewhat depressing feel of them, and the cold atmosphere you get while reading it, and also the one thread connecting them all, ...more
Chris Blocker
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the Mouth of the River of Bees is an interesting and varied pack of stories. Although many of the stories in this collection could easily be labeled as Fantasy, many others escape such simple labeling. Spanning the genres, each stories is unique; while some are more strait-laced fantasy, fairy tales replete with talking animals and beasts of all sizes, others are more contemporary and literary in nature. This wide variety gives the reader many chances to fall for Johnson's stories, but may ma ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Not sure what I thought of this collection as a whole. Some of the stories were gems -- and I say that even of ones that are dark and shudder-inducing, like Spar -- while others made little impression on me. Kij Johnson's writing seems carefully considered and paced, words doled out in just the right amounts, but it doesn't really shine for me in general. A case of "it's not you, it's me"?

The ones that will stick in my head are Spar (gross, but visceral and intriguing, if that's the right word),
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very hit and miss. Honourable mentions - Fox Magic & The Empress Jingu Fishes. ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Finished. Below are my thoughts on each of the stories. Overall an amazing collection, and even the stories I liked the least were still well written. Anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy HAS to read this collection. It'll last through time as a defining work of the genre.

*An asterisk indicates one of my favourites of the collection.

*26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss - Really great. One of the few stories by Johnson I'd read before this collection. I love the structure, and the characterisa
Garth Snyder
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
I want very much to give this collection five stars in honor of its best stories, which constitute some of the most superb short-form writing I've read in years. But truth be told, the quality is somewhat uneven.

Not knowing anything about Kij Johnson, I developed a little fantasy as I was reading: Kij was a hotshot young writer in her early 20s, probably female, whose best stories were so good that they had instantly attracted the attention of the publishing industry. A story collection was sla
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
May 10, 2012: I received a package from Small Beer Press today. I expected it to be my goodreads first-reads win of At the Mouth of the River of Bees but it turned out to be Fountain of Age: Stories. I'll take a look at the book that arrived, but it looks like I won't be reviewing this one.

July 27, 2012: The right book has arrived. I'll be reading and reviewing it soon.

October 16, 2012: Usually if I have been "currently-reading" a book for months without finishing it, I know it is a lost cause
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Kij Johnson is an American writer of fantasy. She has worked extensively in publishing: managing editor for Tor Books and Wizards of the Coast/TSR, collections editor for Dark Horse Comics, project manager working on the Microsoft Reader, and managing editor of Real Networks. She is Associate Director for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and serves as a fina ...more

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