The Prophecy of Bees by R.S. Bateman tells the story of Isabella, a teen who is NOT happy about having to move from busy London into a big old house in a country village, a decision made by her mother who she lives with. She soon learns of local superstitions, tales and curses regarding her house and the danger her and her mother might be in. She doesn’t believe any of them – or at least not to start with…
Bateman does a really good job of creating atmosphere in this novel. I really enjoyed reading about the different rituals and superstitions that the villagers have and the research Isabella does into the symbols she finds around the village, and the way they are often intrinsically linked with the Bible. The idea of a new family moving into a sprawling stately house which is rumoured to be haunted, and take on staff who are all very strange and warn of secrets the house contains, feels like it’s come right out of a gothic horror story, and often reads like one.
The Prophecy of Bees struck me as more of a Young Adult book, though I suppose that’s really more to do with the narrative voice in the novel. The book’s speaker Isabella is portrayed as a typical troubled teenager and you can’t help but be very aware of this throughout the novel; one of the main reasons being that she whines so much! She’s pissed off that she has to leave her boyfriend Cosmo behind, she’s pissed off that she’s cut off from her friends and old life in London, and most of all she’s pissed off that she’s stuck in the big creaky old house with her mum, who she really does not get along with, and a whole array of weird locals who keep warning her about curses and ghosts. She writes like a teenager so because of this I wouldn’t say the novel is written fantastically, but the story is conveyed well nonetheless.
Isabella got on my nerves a bit but seems to grow up a bit as the novel continues and grew in my estimations. The fact that she was a bit unpredictable and still quite young added a sense of confusion and peril to the story.
Although Isabella is quite annoying and I would feel sorry for her mum having to put up with her, Isabella’s mum is actually equally as annoying, if not more – she is snobby, obsessed with status and social and seems to ignore most of what her daughter says or feels. Because of this I didn’t feel overly concerned for mother or daughter’s welfare, despite the various dangers and threats that become apparent as the book continues. Despite this, the story was very entertaining.
I liked the ending which was quite different and had a good twist to it. One thing I would say though is that I wouldn’t list it as ‘for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep’ (as it is described by the publisher) as I really don’t see how it’s like those books at all, they’re too different to compare really in my opinion.
The Prophecy of Bees is a tense, atmospheric novel bursting with symbolism and a strong sense of creepiness. Easy and enjoyable to read, I sped through this in a few days – why not give it a go?
I received an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review