Reason(s) for Reading:
- Trish from TLC Tours contacted me about this one and it looked really interesting! So I jumped on it.
- I like reading wacky, crazy stuff.. and this was definitely wacky and crazy.
I also recommend:
Summary from GoodReads:
Of Bees and Mist is an engrossing fable that chronicles three generations of women under one family tree and places them in a mythical town where spirits and spells, witchcraft and demons, and prophets and clairvoyance are an everyday reality.
Meridia grows up in a lonely home until she falls in love with Daniel at age sixteen. Soon, they marry, and Meridia can finally escape to live with her charming husband’s family—unaware that they harbor dark mysteries of their own. As Meridia struggles to embrace her life as a young bride, she discovers long-kept secrets about her own past as well as shocking truths about her new family that push her love, courage, and sanity to the brink.
Erick Setiawan’s astonishing debut is a richly atmospheric and tumultuous ride of hope and heartbreak that is altogether touching, truthful, and memorable.
My Review (Spoiler free!):
Everything you think you know about reading a story… well, just toss it out the window if you pick up Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan. This was one of the most disgusting, thought-provoking, horrible, fascinating and crazy books I’ve read all year. To give you an idea of how crazy this book was… I read so slow that, at times, I was even going back over certain parts a few times until I finally “got” what Setiawan was trying to do.
As the summary above states, this is a story about three women. Two of the women are in an older generation than the main character, Meridia. In both main families (think of it as almost.. a Romeo/Juliet type of thing..but not quite), the dynamics are somewhat similar – but there are glaring differences as well. It’s really hard to describe it without just telling everything there is to know about the book – so I’ll leave it at that and encourage you to check it out.
All of that said, let me give you some advice as you start to read Of Bees and Mist. First, don’t try to make sense of what you are reading. Then, understand that symbolism prevails in this book. There’s a reason for everything, for the bees, for the mists.. and for the other strange occurrences. This book would make a fantastic book group read, because there is so much to discuss about it! Unfortunately.. it’s so strange I can see a lot of casual readers having a difficult time getting past the first few pages. But once you do… it’s like passing a really gruesome accident. I rubber-necked my way through the whole story, unable to look away and feeling so discouraged, so despondent – and I’m not going to deny that you will probably feel that way as well. Stick it out, though. It’s worth it.
I spent a day mulling it over before finally trying to put my thoughts down in some sort of cohesive review, but this is what you all will get. My ramblings as I struggle to talk about just how much I loved this book.
About the Author
Erick Setiawan was born in 1975 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. A quiet, shy child, he was thankfully 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. To traumatize him further, his parents sent him to Catholic schools, where he learned from an early age to feel guilty about everything and that a grown man in a sash and a swishing robe with a ruler in his hand was in no way maternal.
At age sixteen, he left his family and moved to the United States. He knew three people and barely spoke English, yet was somehow convinced that he could compete with the top students to get into the best colleges. His resolution/delusion pushed him to work hard. The following year, his first choice, Harvard, rejected him, but fortunately Stanford had a lower standard. To this day, he believes that they admitted him by mistake.
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, going as far as getting a Master’s in the latter. Bafflingly enough, studying about mental disorders and complex algorithms only increased his hunger for literature. Once too often, he shuffled aside his term papers and problem sets to lose himself in a novel.
After graduation, he began his tenure as a software engineer in San Francisco. By the end of the first year, he knew that his heart was not in it. Confronted with the risk of being a corporate burnout at twenty-six, he turned to writing in his spare time. To the exasperation of his bosses, he began coming to work late and taking longer and longer lunch breaks in order to write. Several years, two failed novels, and countless short stories later, he decided to quit his job to finish writing Of Bees and Mist. At the time, he had no book deal and knew no one in publishing, but he pursued his passion with the same stubborn resolution/delusion that had motivated him earlier. He sold Of Bees and Mist four years after he started it.
You can find Erick Setiawan at his website and on Facebook.
For more reviews on Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan, please follow the book tour.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from TLC Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”