The Death of Bees: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


Based on the excellence of this debut and of her second novel, Closed Doors, Lisa O’Donnell of Scotland is one author whose every book I would read. In The Death of Bees, through alternating voices of two sisters whose actions have been driven by frightful family circumstances, O’Donnell has an uncanny gift for making her young protagonists’ thoughts and feelings our own. The novel’s grim edge is redeemed by riveting storytelling and by comedic flourishes that seem to fall in just the right spots. I loved this book.

— From John

January 2013 Indie Next List


“Beginning with two children who bury their parents in their garden, The Death of Bees had me hooked from page one. Streetwise teen Marnie and her younger, socially awkward, violin prodigy sister find their parents dead and attempt to cover up their deaths to avoid foster care, with both help and hindrance from some surprising sources. Told from the point of view of multiple characters, this lively, suspenseful, and darkly hilarious tale transfixed me from gruesome start to wonderfully satisfying finish. Brilliant, delightful, and thought provoking!”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

Description


A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel, The Death of Bees is a coming-of-age story in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.

Marnie and Nelly, left on their own in Glasgow's Hazlehurst housing estate, attempt to avoid suspicion until Marnie can become a legal guardian for her younger sister.

Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, and told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for each other.

Praise For…


“In this first novel she pulls off the unusual pairing of grisly and touching.”

“O’Donnell walks a fine line, describing appalling events without ever allowing the novel to lose its warm heart....The Death of Bees is that rare thing: a family-values black comedy.”

“Wild, witty and as funny as it is unsettling. The Death of Bees is really about the strength of sisters, the sparkle of imagination and how even the most motley of half lives can somehow coalesce into a shining whole.”

“O’Donnell’s finely drawn characters display the full palette of human flaws and potential. Told in the alternating voices of Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie, this beautifully written page-turner will have readers fretting about what will become of the girls.”

“[A] chiller told in three voices which will intrigue readers to the last pages…O’Donnell has done a masterful job of sketching her characters…The end is largely unexpected and highly dramatic, but at the same time is the perfect ending to this chilling tale…[a] brilliant book.”

“With characters and voices the remind me of other strong debut novels (like Fates Will Find Their Way and Vaclav and Lena), this book will appeal to readers who like a strong voice, dark humor, and compelling story lines told in a literary yet accessible way.”

“Lisa O’Donnell, an award-winning screenwriter, grabs the reader from the get-go...”

“The author brilliantly paints the characters’ best traits through the eyes of the other characters, and their worst traits through their own voices.”

“O’Donnell’s wildly original debut examines the intricacies of betrayal and loyalty within one family and their effects on two vulnerable young girls…With a gritty but redemptive take on family and the price of secrets, O’Donnell’s debut will be well-received by fans of mainstream literature and Scottish noir mysteries alike.”

“The sisters and Lennie narrate alternating chapters, moving the story along at a fast clip....The difference between the sisters in terms of personality and maturity puts them at odds despite their shared fear of discovery. But their resilience suggests hope for their blighted lives.”

“In more ways than the first line, The Death of Bees reminds me of Donoghue’s Room. Maybe it’s because both authors originated from the United Kingdom. Maybe it’s because both stories carry a darkness brightened only by the innocence of the main characters.

“The quirky characters and thrilling plotlines will leave readers anxious to find out what will become of the girls. This poignant, compelling, and hopeful tale teaches readers that a desperate situation can always be alleviated by reaching out to others.”

“This is a sweet, funny book filled with two sister’s unrelenting love for each other and their determination to stay together at all costs…it is a good read and if you are interested in being taken on a crazy ride, this is the book for you.”

“As a gothic novel and a psychological look at the effects of trauma, it had verve and nerve…O’Donnell knows how to keep a reader engaged, and her sympathy -- and hope -- for her characters tempers what could have been a sordid tale.”

“Quirky characters with distinct voices enliven this sometimes grim and often funny coming-of-age story in the vein of Karen Russell’s best seller Swamplandia! O’Donnell’s debut is sure to be a winner.”

“An unusual coming-of-age novel that features two sisters who survive years of abuse and neglect....The author’s experience as a screenwriter is most definitely apparent, as the reader always hears the voices and can visualize the dramatic, sometimes appallingly grim scenes. Recommended.”

The Death of Bees is completely addictive. A beautiful and darkly funny story of two sisters building a fantasy within a nightmare.”

The Death of Bees is compelling stuff, engaging the emotions from the first page and quickly becoming almost impossible to put down.”

“As the action reaches a feverish climax…dark comedy is replaced by nerve-shredding tension…the reader is thoroughly caught up in the emotional trials and tribulations of two unlikely heroines….Warm without being cozy, explicit without being shocking, and emotive without being schmaltzy…a powerful coming-of-age tale…”

“This vibrantly-imagined novel, by turns hilarious and appalling, is hard to resist.”

“Mixing The Ladykillers with Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House… O’Donnell adeptly balances caustic humour and compassion.”

The Death of Bees steadily draws you into its characters’ emotional lives.”

“The most original and incredible piece of writing I’ve come across in years.”

“Warm without being cozy, explicit without being shocking, and emotive without being schmaltzy . . . a powerful coming-of-age tale.”

“We loved this novel and think you will, too…The Death of Bees gives us one of the most memorable protagonists in recent fiction.”
Product Details
ISBN: 9780062209856
ISBN-10: 006220985X
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2013
Pages: 336
Language: English
Series: P.S.