I expected to enjoy Keeper Of The Bees, but noooo — I am utterly in love with this book.
I just read Blackbird of the Gallows, which is the first in this series, and wildly liked it. It’s unique and dark and the characters are ones you’d casually go from “hey I like them” to “well wow son I’d die for them” all in the space of a few chapters. So good. And then waltzes in this companion book.
This is the book for those of us who fall in love with villains. It’s about mental illness and how people perceive it. It’s about monsters and murder. It’s about the sweetest and softest love between teens scared to hurt each other.
IT IS DARK. AND SOFT™ TOO. And I am living for that combination.
Do you need to read Blackbird Of The Gallows first?
I think so! This is technically a companion story, so it DOES make sense and stand on it’s own. But there’s one chapter that references the ending of BOTG so it’d essentially spoil it if you read that first. This is all different characters, though, it’s just in the same world.
So in Blackbird Of The Gallows, we feel sorry for the Beekeepers, but they were also total villains. Here? Get ready to have your heart mANGLED by the cursed Beekeeper, Dresden, who is grumpy and tragic and bitter…and utterly adorable. He is just so perpetually wounded and an absolute precious bucket and secretly so soft and sweet inside.
He wants to pROTECT. He wants to be free of his curse. He’s a monster and he’s aware of it and I love how respectful his relationship with Essie was through it all. Like yes he’s an immortal, but it was never creepy thank goodness. Also he LOVED HER AND RESPECTED HER FOR WHO SHE WAS, illness and all.
Essie is the kind of protagonist you will want protect forever.
She literally just breathes and I’m like, “IF ANYTHING HAPPENS TO HER, I WILL BITE EVERYONE.” She’s sweet and precious (reminds me of Luna Lovegood)! Yes I like badass heroines, but I also love vulnerable ones. She has an illness that reads lik paranoid schizophrenia, but it has paranormal strands so the doctors can’t diagnose or treat her properly. But basically she sees things, hallucinates, and it really tramples her life.
I really appreciate the conversations that went down about mental health! The “bad” characters scorned it, obviously, and treated Essie horribly. But Essie didn’t spend the book hating herself! Her aunt loved her FOR HER. There was no “meet a boy and your problems are over” (LOL, THIS IS A CURSED BEEKEEPER. HER PROBLEMS GOT WORSE WHEN HE ARRIVED). I just appreciate that it didn’t trot out the “You have to be CURED to have a good life” messages. It also took time to unpack how people see those with mental illness as suspicious and monstrous because they don’t bother to understand you.
The romance was super cute!
We have Dresden all, “I AM A TRAGIC MONSTER” and then we have Essie like “I CAN’T TELL IF YOU’RE EVEN REAL” and they are both so cuuuuuute. She doesn’t care that his face is always changing. They love each other for who they are not who they were. It’s super slow burn too and fajdsklad I ship this.
Scootch over vampires and werewolves, we have HARBINGERS OF DEATH and Strawmen and chaos-inciting Beekeepers whose mouths and lungs are full of bees. The lore is interesting and backstory is explored. And I’m so captivated!
Also harbinger crows vs beekeeper chaos boys are NOT supposed to be friends, buuuut we have Michael who forcefully befriends Dresden and they are tHE BEST.
☆ Aunt Bel is an absolute GEM and fought for Essie’s rights and treatment the whole time.
☆ The harbingers are still here and they don’t play as big a part but they’re fantastic!
☆ When Michael shifts he tells Dresden (FIERCE AND SCARY CREEPY BEEKEEPER) to pick up his clothes. Dresden even folds them. I can’t even.
☆ it basically gave us villains and then UNMADE their villainy.
☆ but it also gave us unredeemable human villains who are despicable
☆ there are fabulous and fierce friendships
☆ interesting and complex women with great relationships
☆ it’s fast-paced but also has a slower dreamy quality to it
☆ GORGEOUS WRITING THAT I LOVE
☆ the cover is absolutely divine and I wish to just absorb it forever
☆ there’s a bit o’ a murder mystery in this one
☆ I actually want 9389 more books in this world
I am of the opinion that this one is total beautiful perfection. It’s heartfelt and emotional and I love how it unmakes those who should be monstrous and shows the real monsters of this world. About two pages in I realised I’d do anythign for Dresden and Essie so like, here little green book of goodness, let me give you all the stars.
THANK YOU TO ENTANGLED TEEN FOR THE REVIEW-COPY. Keeper Of The Bees (#2) by Meg Kassel is published Sept 4th 2018!
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.