Of Bees and Mist

Setiawan, Erick. Of Bees and Mist. Read by Marguerite Gavin. Blackstone Audio, 2009.

Reason read: Read in honor of Indonesia’s Day of Silence in March, but Of Bees and Mist has nothing to do with Indonesia except that the author is Indonesian.

Meridia defies death as a newborn barely minutes old. This is how Of Bees and Mist begins. Such a near tragedy doesn’t explain why her father is verbally and sometimes physically abusive, or how her mother can’t seem to remember Meridia even exists. Ghosts in the mirror are misconstrued as fragments of leftover dreams. The color of the mist outside the family door matters: yellow, ivory, or blue. There was a time before the ghosts and mists, but no one can remember it. All Meridia wants to do is get away from her heartless and cruel family. At sixteen she gets that chance when she meets handsome and charming Daniel. Within a year they are married, but like all good fairytales, Meridia soon finds out she has traded in one horror show for another. This time, her evil step-monster mother performs all the torturing. Helped by an army of fantastical fireflies and bees, Eva manages to make Meridia’s life a living hell even worse than when she lived with her parents. Eva acts as a modern day Iago, letting her vicious tongue as her deadliest weapon destroy those around her. No one is safe from her vile talk. Rumors and lies spew like poison. However, as Meridia matures she finds the strength and fortitude to fight back even if that means giving up everything she loves. Mother and daughter-in-law engage in an interesting dance of push and pull for supremacy in the household. There seems to be no end to the animosities.
As an aside, I always love finding connections to Natalie Merchant. This time I thought of “Planned Obsolescence” when I read about the mystics, prophets, exorcists, spiritualists, and fortune tellers at the town square.

Best quote, “the realization hurt less than she had anticipated, for by that time she had embraced the belief that people would pass from her life in the manner of shadows sliding over a room” (p 42).

Author fact: Of Bees and Mist is Setiawan’s only novel in LibraryThing. It is also the only book on the Challenge list.

Book trivia: this should be a movie.

Nancy said: Pearl said readers shouldn’t miss Of Bees and Mist.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Indicative of Indonesia” (p 103). As an aside, Of Bees and Mist does not necessarily take place in Indonesia. I have read it doesn’t take place anywhere you can readily find on a map. Setiawan, however, is from Jakarta, Indonesia.