The Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel

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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.

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Like a really really really high three crowns??? There was just something so captivating about this book that I wanted both this three and four crown mix.

There were a lot of really good things about this book, and then there were the cheesy things that would pop up and make me stop and go omg, but we were doing so well. But overall, I really enjoyed it, and it was such a different, quirky book that I do recommend putting it on your TBRs if you’re looking for something extra out of the ordinary.

The main thing that I loved loved loveddddddddddd was our main character, Essie. Omigosh, there are not enough crowns for her. I loved being in her voice. I want a million books about her. She is Luna Lovegood fighting of bees that make you crazy and a Strawman with a Scarecrow face. She kicked so much butt, and I was hereeeeeeeeeeeee for everything.

As you might have guessed, Essie is a bit of a quirky MC with the Luna Lovegood reference. She is part of the Wickerton family who is cursed and plagued by mental health issues. She seems thing out of the ordinary (like her aunt’s hair smoking on fire or her therapist having a forked tongue) and she can’t decipher what is real and not real. Since I personally don’t have these struggles, I can’t confirm accuracy, but it felt like a very well done characterization. Kassel always showcased the benefits and drawbacks of having this illness, the depth that it brings to your friends and family, and the emotions that we all would go through. It felt real and it felt emotinal and Essie was such a pillar of deep emotional and mental strength. The way she saw the world was so much love for me, and it felt like a dream to be in her head. I give Kassel a millionnnnnnnnnnnnn props for creating her and ugh, can we just have a million books with her as the protag?

Dresden is our other main character who is a “beekeeper.” Basically he has a lot of bees living inside him and once he lets the bees out, they sting people, turning their brains who already had darkness in them into full on insanity. I liked him well enough, but he really just had protective vibe on and he was forever in the angsty, broodiness zone. I wanted a bit more to him, since Essie was so wonderful.

Also, their first interaction will have me forever crying because it was just so brilliant. Dresden comes up to sting/eventually kill Essie and she’s like, oh, you’re here to kill me? Kk, cool, I like your face. It was so brilliant, and totally had me going, wait, what is this book, I NEED TO DEVOUR IT.

Speaking of plot/concepts, this is a…I wouldn’t say a sequel but more of a companion book to another book called Black Bird of the Gallows. I did read the first one, but truthfully, I don’t remember much of it other than there were black birds, bees, and harbringers of death. So, I didn’t remember too much of the world, but I still managed to dive into this one easily and perfectly. Seriously, Kassel did such a good job of introducing us to the concepts in a creative and easy manner that was never info dumpy or OMG, GIRL, WHY DON’T YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST BOOK??? GET IT TOGETHER.

And the concept was just soooooooooooooooooo interesting. I don’t know how Kassel ever came up with it other than totally taking a wayyyyyyy different perspective to the birds and the bees conversation, but it’s just so unique. I was like, omg, that’s cool. Wait, no, omg, that’s cool. Everything read like a mix of a light horror meets great fantasy in a contemporary setting. Trust me, you want this on your fall TBRs.

Jasmine is not so sure about a whole new world of bees and crows. Where are the tigers???

The cheese was the only thing that got me not giving it the fullllllllllll crowns. I mean, the romance happened so fast and so furious and so deeply that I was just like, but wait, what? It was the classic immortal guy having a few moments of interaction and needing to change his entire life around her. I just wanted something slower and more organic but I mean, I get the necessity to move it along but still. And things getting so deeply with “I Love You” after four chapters??? And there were a few other things that had me with the cheese.

The mystery was intriguing as well. I picked up on who it might be, but it wasn’t into late late into the story.

Overall, this was such a different book, and it’s really enjoyable. There were a few things that kept me from loving it including some cheese and cliches, but I really recommend putting it on your TBRs. I gave me one of my new favorite main characters, and it has a perfect fall setting. I’m going to put 3.5 crowns and a Jasmine rating for now!


What do you think? What was the most unique concept that you’ve read lately? Can you love a character more than you love a book? Let’s discuss in the comments below!


12 thoughts on “The Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel

  1. Ohhhhh I recognize Black Bird of the Gallows! I was wondering if I should read it at one point because the cover look intriguing, so it’s really cool to hear it’s a companion. The premise of this book sounds so unique, and it kinda reminds me of the X-men in regards to people being hounded by their powers (there’s a T.V. show called Legion that really is similar to Essie’s dilemma). Excellent review! I’m super curious to check this book out now! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t remember much about the first book either other than that the bees were creepy, but like I’m super intrigued by this book now because it has more bees. What can I say? You gave it some good buzz. I’m sorry. I’m leaving.
    P.S. Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

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