This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
15-year-old Marnie and her 12-year-old sister, Nelly haven’t had a conventional upbringing having parents who are more interested in stuffing themselves with drink and drugs than filling the kitchen cupboards with food. Neglectful and abusive, Izzy and Gene aren’t mourned when they die. Marnie’s only worry is that she and Nelly will be taken into care and separated so the girls keep quiet about their parents’ death and bury them in the back garden.
Elderly neighbour Lennie is known as the local pervert so Marnie is reluctant to trust him when he shows concern for their welfare, assuming their parents have abandoned them. He offers food and love to the girls, but Marnie isn’t sure how long their secret can remain hidden, especially as Lennie’s dog is determined to dig up the bodies.
I wasn’t sure what to make of The Death Of Bees to begin with. Marnie, due to her upbringing, is a wayward teen, which shows in the tone of the book, but I soon grew used to her and, within a matter of pages, I was drawn into her story. The book is told from three perspectives; Marnie’s, Nelly’s and Lennie’s. All three are troubled by their pasts, but I liked how they came together and formed a grandfather/granddaughter bond quite quickly. Lennie needs somebody to care for while the girls crave a figure of authority to step in and guide them, taking care of them after so many years of neglect.
The sisters are very different, with Marnie being tough and street-wise while Nelly is odd, awkward and naïve. Nelly is quite an eccentric character, but she really grew on me and by the end she was my favourite character in the whole book. I thought The Death Of Bees was going to be a dark book, focusing mainly on the death and burial of Izzy and Gene, but it was a much more touching tale of three lost people clinging to one another to create their own unique family unit.
Lisa O’Donnell’s Website