KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.


“This book is for everyone who falls in love with the villain. This book is for everyone who doesn’t fit a mold—on the outside, or the inside, or both.”

5 “I did not expect to root for this “villain” “ stars.

I wondered how Meg Kassel would make me fall for a villain!
Let’s face it Rafette from Black Birds of the Gallow was a true villain and a beekeeper!

The secret is to make your villain human even if he is an immortal cursed to sting people into madnesd with his bees! Have him long for a friend. Have him show remorse and regret for all the wrong that he’s done. Have him wish he could save his girl and the readers with a big romantic heart like me will root for the villain!

Now what is this story about?

This is the story of Dresden a young fisherman born centuries ago and cursed to become a magical weapon. A war machine infecting enemies with madness with a sting of his bees.
Long after magic has been eradicated some creatures like him still exist.
Dresden has a fragile relationship with the bees living inside his chest. He can avoid stinging too many people if he lets them sting some.
His reluctance to sting many if not necessary was the first sign of his shreds of kindness.
That and his friendship with Michael a harbinger of death.

Essie is a 17 years old girl afflicted by the Wickerton curse. That’s how puzzled doctors have named the unusul madness plaguing many members of that family for generations.

Poor Essie. She does not know what is real and what is imagined in all the things she sees. When she laughs pink bubbles escape her mouth. Not real. Her doctor has a forked tongue. Not real but…

She is so lonely as no one wants to befriend someone as weird as her.

She tries to be as small a burden to her aunt as she can.

“A group of teen girls pass by, bent toward each other, giggling at something. It’s been years since I’d attended school. One ugly “episode” that scared some parents and teachers ended my public-school experience. Now, Aunt Bel homeschools me with the help of tutors. I look away from the girls with a pang of longing. For friends. For a sense of belonging. For that underrated state of ordinary.”

Honestly you can’t help loving Essie. I double dog dare you!

When Dresden and Essie will meet they won’t behave in the usual expected pattern.
Dresden won’t sting her but feel protective. He won’t focus on her madnesd but on her light, her kindness and her beauty.
Essie won’t be frightened by Dresden’s constantly changing faces. She’ll find him wonderful and handsome.

“If you are a burden, I am a nightmare.” “No, Dresden. You are a dream.”


This wonderful picture of a bee has been taken by our fellow blogger Roda and can be fin on her IG account @indigo_acres_apiary   Thank you Roda for allowing me to use some of your gorgeous pictures!!!  Go visit her account please!


“You are the furthest thing from a monster. You are light and grace and all the things I thought I had forgotten. It’s agony for me to be near you, yet I can’t stay away.”

Of course you’ll have villains other than Dresden. Black souls let lose thanks to the Strawman touch.
You’ll have a quest to break the curses.
You’ll have a threat or two warranting the harbingers of death’s presence in town.
You will have a personal journey through doubts and madness.
You’ll have…
Many favorite tricks marking YA Fantasy stories as epic love stories.

With feather touches Megan Kassel brushes a portrait of two lonely and marginalized souls finding solace and peace in the other one.
Separate they were odd; together they are luminous. Shining with hope and beauty.

You can be a villain and still worthy of redemption, of love.
You can be different and still be beautiful worthy of love just as you are.

I discovered Meg Kassel’s books through Black Birds of the Gallow who was one of my favorite reads of 2017. She has proven once again her tale telling talent.

I received an ARC of this story courtesy of the Entangled Publishing on Netgalley but it had no influence whatsoever on my willing and always honest review!


I want to share some more of Roda’s incredible pictures of bees! Enjoy 😉 


Have you read any of Meg Kassel’s books?

Thanks for reading!


Similar Posts

Let's talk!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Loved this book. You are so right about both of the characters! ❤️ I love awkward characters. These two especially, (don’t want to reveal any spoilers) warmed my heart. Excellent review Sophie!

  2. Loved this review!
    I’m quite interested in this book. Don’t think i ever read a retelling of beauty & beast before. Well, i haven’t really read a retelling of anything really, i must admit 😀

  3. Great review! This sounds like a lovely read! I enjoyed the first book and I’m very much looking forward to read this one. I’m so glad you loved it! Dresden and Essie sounds like great characters. I can’t wait to read it! 🙂

    1. I know you loved the first one Raven! It was your review that convinced me to read it 😉 Fingers crossed here!

  4. Wow, okay, this sounds like a truly fascinating retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I’ve never heard of this author but then, I don’t or haven’t read much YA in the last few years, so not surprising really. Will have to check her out.

    1. Alexandra you should begin with her first one Black Birds of the gallow! I promise this is another fantastic one! They can be read as stand alone but it gives you some abck story 😉