The Bee King by Mathilda Zeller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Bee King is a young adult story with elements of horror, so would perhaps suit mature teens and above.
Alice lives on an island where poverty and crop failures often lead islanders to sell their daughters. Alice will do anything to protect her sister and cousin; she works hard and defends them from her abusive, drunken father.
One day the mysterious, fabled Bee Men arrive in the town, offering families much needed money in return for sending their daughters to a special ball where one will be chosen as the new wife of the Bee King, and Alice does all she can to protect her sister and cousin.
With many analogies to bees and their life-cycle, this is an enchanting tale. It’s a little gruesome in places and does touch on sensitive subject matters which some readers may find difficult to read about. There are whiffs of fairy tales and fables woven in to the narrative with a sprinkle of magic and revenge. If you like bees and a touch of horror, then this is worth a read.
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When the crops fail, the monsters come.
When the monsters come, they buy the daughters.
Alice would do anything to keep her sister and cousin out of the hands of the monsters. She would even accept a marriage proposal from the Bee King, the mysterious honey magnate allegedly driving the prosperity of the empire.
But when she arrives at the Apiary, the secluded estate of her betrothed, nothing is as it seems. The empire’s wealthy and famous are converging upon the estate and she soon learns that the Bee King is not marrying her for love or lust, but third reason–a dark, strange, and deadly reason.