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Few in town agreed on when the battle began. The matchmaker believed it
started the morning after the wedding, when Eva took all of Meridia's gold
and left her with thirteen meters of silk. The fortune-teller, backed by his
crystal globe, swore that Eva's eyes did not turn pitiless until Meridia
drenched them in goose blood three months later. The midwife championed
another theory: The feud started the day Meridia held her newborn son with
such pride that Eva felt the need to humble her. But no matter how loudly
the townspeople debated, the answer remained a mystery -- and the two women
themselves were to blame. Meridia said little, and Eva offered conflicting
explanations, which confirmed the town's suspicion that neither one of them
could actually remember.
The town first took notice of Meridia at the hour of her birth. That
evening, following what would be remembered as twenty-seven hours of labor,
she was extracted blue and wrinkled from Ravenna's womb. Her lungs, despite
the ten slaps administered to her rump, refused to take even one breath. The
midwife was about to bundle her away when Ravenna scolded: "What are you
doing, woman? Give her to me!"
In her calm, ordinary voice, Ravenna told the baby that after putting her
through eight months of discomfort and twenty-seven hours of unadulterated
pain, after ruining her figure and swelling her breasts and wreaking havoc
on her appetite, the least she could do was give her mother a farewell cry.
"The tiniest squeak would do," said Ravenna. "A yowl would be even better."
Ravenna went on for some minutes, rocking her daughter gently, and by the
time she recited the intimate details surrounding the baby's conception --
"if you could only see the ungodly contortions your father had me do" --
Meridia spluttered a cough and inhaled her first breath.
"Stubborn little creature," chuckled Ravenna. "Do you think you're too good
for this world?"
The midwife waited in vain for the baby to cry. Meridia gasped and grimaced,
but one thing she did not do was cry. An hour later, shaking and scratching
her head, the midwife departed. To every person she saw she confided, "One
hundred babies delivered, and I've never seen one like her. Whether she is
an angel or a demon only time will tell."
A few months shy of Meridia's first birthday, a blinding flash of light
traveled at great speed in the dark of night and awakened her. There was a
crash and a tumble, followed by a terrible scream, and suddenly she was
snatched up from her bassinet and crushed against Ravenna's bosom. At the
age of three, after Meridia learned enough words to speak, she tried to
articulate to Ravenna what she had witnessed. All her mother did was sigh
and mutter, "Some things are better left as dreams, child." Was it a dream
then? Meridia wanted to ask, but Ravenna had turned to her vegetables and
forgotten her. Her mother's back was straight and sturdy -- capable, Meridia
suspected, of holding unknowable secrets.
From Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan
Raised in a house perpetually shrouded by mist and where ghosts dwell in the mirrors, 16-year-old Meridia is more than eager to start a new life when she marries Daniel. Little does she know that his family harbors secrets even stranger than those she left behind. There is a grave hidden in the garden. There are two sisters groomed to despise each other. And there is Eva, the matriarch, whose grievances have a habit of coming to life as a swarm of bees...and whose disdain for Meridia leads to all-out war.
Set in a familiar world where magic abounds, Erick Setiawan’s Of Bees and Mist is a revelation—a modern fable of two unforgettable families, long-kept secrets and the power of love. You’ll be spellbound until the very last page.
Hardcover Book : 416 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc. ( August 04, 2009 )
Item #: 12-758689
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.99inches
Product Weight: 15.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
I won't buy it. San serif type is difficult to read, so if the type presented in the excerpt is the same as the type in the book, you can count me out.
Reviewer: Bill R
This was a pretty darn good book...it's engrossing and entertaining. I easily got involved in the plot..to the point of actually being angry at a certain character (no spoilers here, but those who have read it can probably guess who). It doesn't get five stars from me (more like 3.5) because it seemed the author was sometimes reaching when inventing idiosyncrasies of the fictional world in which the characters lived. Occasionally my own cynicism regarding certain aspects of the novel would snap me out of my enjoyment. But certainly worth a read!
What a great book. I could not put this down for a second. The characters were touchable and I loved the mystical touch.
This book was a page turner. The bonds of love and evil mixed with families capable of both.