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Of Bees and Mist [Paperback]

Erick Setiawan
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

24 Dec 2009

Up in the house that sits on the hill, a strange spell is brewing...

To Meridia, growing up with her father Gabriel, who vanishes daily in clouds of mist, and her bewitching mother Ravenna, the outside world is a refuge. So when as a young woman her true love Daniel offers her marriage, it seems an escape to a more straightforward existence.

Yet behind the welcoming façade of her new home lies a life of drudgery and a story even stranger than that she left behind. Aged retainers lurk in the background; swarms of bees appear at will, and of course, there's her indomitable mother-in-law, Eva, hiding secrets that it will take Meridia years to unravel. Surrounded by seemingly unfathomable mysteries, can Meridia unlock the intrigues of the past, and thus protect her own family's future?

An epic tale of two families told by an unforgettable voice. A modern fable, a gothic page-turner, but most of all, a passionate story about the power of love to conquer all that comes its way.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (24 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755348559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755348558
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 144,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Erick Setiawan was born in 1975 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. A quiet, shy child, he was raised in a family of gifted storytellers, who taught him that while life might have an endless supply of conflict, not all of it translates into a good story. Due to the anti-Chinese sentiment prevalent in Indonesia, his childhood was often fraught with tension, which prompted him to take comfort in books and in the world of his imagination.

At age sixteen, he left his family and moved to the United States. He knew three people and barely spoke English, yet he managed to be admitted to Stanford University.

In college, he wanted to study English, but his shyness and insecurity about his adopted language prevented him from enrolling in classes that required him to speak. Instead, he chose to major in Psychology and Computer Science. Following university, he worked as a software engineer in San Francisco, but quickly realised that his heart was not in it. He turned to writing in his spare time, before finally quitting his job to finish the book that became Of Bees and Mist.

Product Description

Review

'Of Bees and Mist is a beautifully crafted adult fairytale of love, loss, and loyalty that is at once witty, magical, and moving. This is a stunningly accomplished first novel.' (John Connolly, author of The Book of Lost Things and The Lovers)

It's rare to read a work of fiction that is so uniquely intoxicating, it becomes necessary to put life on hold while you let it work its magic. What makes Setiawan's achievement even more wonderful is that this is his debut novel...This is a bewitching, achingly romantic fairy tale and a truly epic undertaking - one that addresses some of lifes most universal themes of love, loyalty and betrayal (SHE Magazine)

This debut demands you enter a place full of spirits, ghosts, demons and clairvoyants, where spells and witchcraft prevail. (Glamour Magazine)

'It's rare to read a work of fiction that is so uniquely intoxicating, it becomes necessary to put life on hold while you let it work its magic. What makes Setiawan's achievement even more wonderful is that this is his debut novel...This is a bewitching, achingly romantic fairy tale and a truly epic undertaking - one that addresses some of lifes most universal themes of love, loyalty and betrayal' (SHE magazine)

'This debut demands you enter a place full of spirits, ghosts, demons and clairvoyants, where spells and witchcraft prevail.' (Glamour magazine)

A wildly imaginative beauty also marks Setiawan out as one to watch. (Metro)

A beautiful and sweeping modern fable of two families enmeshed in jealousy, desire and bitterness, the depth of passon and the pain of loss. Delightfully written and compelling, it's terrific - one to be hand sold. (The Bookseller)

'A wildly imaginative beauty also marks Setiawan out as one to watch.' (Metro)

'[Setiawan's] writing [is] so expressive and squeaky clean . . . A really impressive first novel.' (City AM)

'A beautiful and sweeping modern fable of two families enmeshed in jealousy, desire and bitterness, the depth of passon and the pain of loss. Delightfully written and compelling, it's terrific - one to be hand sold.' (The Bookseller)

'If you're looking for something to read, that's a bit different, hugely innovative, with a cracking plot - look no further......The author deserves to enjoy huge success with this debut novel, and I will be awaiting his next work with eager anticipation.' (The Bookbag)

[H]eartfelt . . . [F]ans of fantasy and fiction lovers alike are sure to enjoy this magical tale. (Publishers Weekly)

'Writing with a fairy-tale sensibility, Setiawan cloaks every aspect of the novel in magic, spells, and ghosts both actual and imaginary. For readers who like their novels steeped in the fantastic, this is a marvel.' (Booklist)

'[A]mbitious . . . [A]n undeniably intriguing landscape . . . [A] story that pulses with life . . .' (San Francisco Chronicle)

'[O]riginal and compelling, and it's hard to set down . . . [T]he closing pages of Of Bees and Mist are perhaps inevitable, but not predictably so. And they are very right . . . This is a debut that is a looping joy to read, a journey in a world that is jointly anchored in the fantastic and earthy humanity.' (Denver Post)

'[A] fascinating domestic drama.' (Washington Post)

'[A] richly drawn fantasy world . . . [M]emorable, identifiable characters and an enjoyable story rooted in human emotion. Love, longing, and the pain of compromise are indeed recognizable to all, no matter our culture or geography.' (Miami Herald)

Book Description

A surprising, totally original roller-coaster of a novel - a magic-realism-meets-Gothic-fantasy debut that is generating huge interest on either side of the Atlantic.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling 7 Aug 2009
By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Erick Setiawan's debut novel is a fabulous creation - an intense family melodrama set within a dark gothic fantasy world. Within this magical world Meridia's life experience has been shaped by the deep rift that has always lain between her father and mother - a rift expressed in the coldness emanating from the house around them, dark mists that lap at the door to whisk her father off to his mistress, the vengeful ghost of his mother's bitterness and anger battering at the door and appearing in the mirrors of the house.

Then, at a fairground of wonderful sideshows and spiritualists offering their services, Meridia meets Daniel and the dark world she has known is transformed into something lighter and more magical. However, as she and Daniel overcome the obstacles to start their life together, Meridia finds the ominous mists of her youth replaced by an even more menacing threat - the bees spewed out by her mother-in-law, Eva.

At heart, Of Bees and Mist is a big family melodrama of dark family secrets and disputes, but the bitterness is so deep and violent that it has to be expressed in terms of a magic realism that owes as much to Tim Burton as it does to Isabel Allende or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Setiawan keeps the drama grounded in the reality of human behaviour and interaction, expressing with minute detail and observation every nuance of emotion, conflict and love, but converting it into magical terms of dark portentous omens and precious objects. In so doing he creates in Eva one of the most monstrous and unforgettable characters ever seen in literature - truly the Mother-in-Law from Hell - in a distinctive and utterly enthralling first novel.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very original and very bizarre 3 Oct 2009
By JM VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
I think this is one of the most peculiar books I have ever read, it is far from the sort of novel I would usually pick up but I fancied something different, it was certainly that!
It is set in a bizarre world of strange mists, shifting and lengthening staircases, a strange market with a woman who grows herbs from her own body and a man who swallows whole radishes and spits them out chopped. It is supposedly in present day but there's no indication of this, no mention of cars or technology or any modern day devices. I found it all pretty weird when I first started reading and after a couple of chapters decided it wasn't for me.
However, I persevered a little further and suddenly it began to hold my interest. Once we see Eva, the wicked mother in law, in her true colours the book begins to take shape. She is a fantastically devised character, utterly evil, and the story is basically the tale of her battle with the heroine, Meridia.
Although set in this weird weird world, mostly the characters are pretty human, although they do have some peculiarities and seemingly magical qualities. I wouldn't say it was really my kind of book but it was interesting enough and certainly original, I have never read anything like it before.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, funny romp of a fairytale 26 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have to admit that when I first started this book I was very dubious about it. It starts out sounding like some awful, twee fairytale. Rather weirdly, it turns out to be so, so much more than that. Filled with characters with names like 'Meridia' (this is why I was initially put off), Of Bees and Mist is actually a deeply touching, funny and moving novel.

It is certainly not just a fairytale, although it plays with that format, and it is certainly not just one for the girls. Although it is lightly written with a deft touch, it's a book with a lot of depth too. Highly recommended - my favourite surprise novel of this year!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, Wonderful. Wonderful. 30 Sep 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book was in my Amazon recommendations, it looked interesting and thought I'd give it a go. I must admit, I found it very odd and to be perfectly frank I was very close to throwing the book aside. The mist, the bees, the strangeness of everything. But I perservered and suddenly I realised that I was completely and utterly sucked in. I read a lot of books, but being a Mum of three little children, my reading time is very limited. I literally could not put this book down. I loved and believed all the characters. I found myself actually crying sometimes!! There were on occasions that I had to check that this was a male author, considering his understanding of a womens' psyche, particularly after having a baby! It's been a long time since I've been so hooked. Even whilst I was making dinner I had the book propped up for me to read. I have been completely distracted. Thankfully, although sadly I have now finished it this morning. I can now turn my attention back to my family!!! When putting it down I stated to my one year old, "OK Matthew! Mummys back!!" It was a wonderful book. I usually buy books on Amazon and then sell them on, but this one will be staying on my shelf. A book all about magic, and boy, it really worked it's magic on me!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful tale ... 21 Feb 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
To help someone thinking about buying this book (and to link with some other reviews) the first thing to say is the book is in the magic realism genre - mixing fantasy/magic naturally alongside everyday life. Once you start from that point, the wonders of the strange psychic fair, the bees, the mists, the ghosts in the mirror all make sense. My thoughts were 'Coraline' - but for grown-ups - very much sprang to mind when reading it.

The story revolves around the life of Meridia beginning with her childhood, progressing through her courtship and subsequent marriage into her adult life. The magic realism is woven around all the different characters and difficult relationships she encounters and that we can all relate to in life: Eva, the most evil and controlling mother-in-law you could possibly imagine (and what better way to describe those plagued by such people as to be tortured by constantly humming, stinging bees); Meridia's relationship with her parents - her mother loving and affectionate one moment then dissolving into a manic individual who clatters around her kitchen speaking an unfathomable language the next; her father - cold and distant, who regularly disappears and appears from the mists. The later relationship with her husband and sisters-in-law are beautifully laid out and shows how even the strongest individuals can be worn down by the constant picking from controlling, evil individuals (*the Bees have become a wonderful analogy to me of what these people do in life, and therefore how hard it is for their victims to stand up against them long-term!). The book also covers much darker abuses in life and the magic realism gives a wonderful vehicle to describe the people who inflict them.

This is a gothic melodrama where the tale is beautifully interwoven with magic. My only criticism would be that as all the beautifully laid out threads gradually came together for the climatic ending, the final piece was a bit 'Oh. Ok then'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A magical beautifully written book
anybody who believes there is magic must read this book.I was hooked from the beginning,as the author takes you on a magical journey of everyday life.. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Denzil Holder
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfair rating
This might me an unfair rating, but fact is I tried to read this book about three times and I never warmed up to it. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Bullen
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the Title of the book
This book turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read. It was very different, weird and kind of adult fairytale. I love anything like this. Give it a chance :)
Published 8 months ago by Debra
4.0 out of 5 stars Did I love this or like it?
I would say liked it, it got me hooked. I can't place this in my top best reads ever but it's absolutely well worth a read! Mystical, dark, conjured up amazing images! Read more
Published 9 months ago by Nelly
1.0 out of 5 stars Badly executed whimsey and angst
Have to agree with the negative reviews. Aside from the magical elements (which are laid on with a trowel) there is little to like. Read more
Published 13 months ago by JParsons
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyed it!!
I know it's had a mixed bag of reviews, but I really loved it and couldn't put it down. The writing is beautifully descriptive and the imagery fab… I think everyone reviewing has... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mrs. Fiona Northover
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This book hooked me in from the beginning! It's an interesting read with a fantastical feel yet still being realistic and believable. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lorraine
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric gothic novel
A compelling gothic fantasy with a disturbing undertone of menace throughout, 'Of Bees and Mist' is a strange but well written novel. Read more
Published 17 months ago by BookWorm
2.0 out of 5 stars Drags on a bit!!
I thought this book was ok to start with but found it really drags on. Unfortunately I didn't really like any of the characters and to finish it was quite a chore.
Published 18 months ago by Kate Danger
2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
I bought this book because it had such good reviews on Amazon. However, I was sorely disappointed. As a previous reviewer has already pointed out, the English was appalling, with... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Izz the Bizz
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