Plot: Arrows Tipped in Honey, the second novel in Jean Gill's inventive Natural Forces YA fantasy series, continues the story of the first book and sets up intriguing possibilities for future volumes. It offers suspense and surprises of its own, particularly in scenes in which young Kermon ventures outside the realm of the living and encounters the ghost of Rinduran, a villain defeated in the first book, and in Mielitta's efforts to understand bee life and the secret history of the somewhat dystopian society called Perfection. The scheming of the Council of the Citadel dominates the narrative, despite the apparent decimation of that body in the first book; a strong theme here is the ease with which victories can get corrupted. The novel's incidents and intrigue are individually exciting, and the mysteries surrounding Arven and Verity are satisfying, but the story reads like aftermath and set-up rather than its own coherent whole.
Prose/Style: Gill's milieu shifts from Citadel to Forest, from council intrigue to buzzing beehive. The author’s vivid, lyric prose brings both worlds to life with thrilling attention to the senses -- and to pacing. The rich descriptions and memorable metaphors never impede the storytelling. Dialogue is crisp and persuasive, and the characters' feelings power their point of view chapters. Gill's work is deeply engaging.
Originality: Some of the Citadel intrigue plotting (political marriages, a rite-of-passage test for young mages, a dystopia that gets rid of old people) are overly familiar from recent popular fantasy and dystopian franchises. But Gill finds fresh spins on those, and the author’s own inventions are singular. Mielitta's time with bees is beautiful yet tense, and Kermon's adventures "in the walls" prove continually surprising and exciting. Best of all, Gill's characters are convincing and unique.
Character Development: Gil's cast are well drawn and often feel torn between worlds and courses of action. Their choices are never cleanly predictable yet feel inevitable in hindsight. That's true of the leads and the secondary characters, too -- one of the book's highlights comes when Verity, the daughter of the dead Rinduran, spurns the ghost father who has manipulated Kermon into bringing them together. The book's heart, though, is in the hearts of Kermon and Mielitta, which each power those characters' respective point-of-view chapters.
Blurb: Jean Gill's Natural Forces series offer a rich, strange, and alluring adventure that buzzes with intrigue and nature.
Date Submitted: July 26, 2020
Praise for Book 1 'Queen of the Warrior Bees', QUARTERFINALIST in The Booklife Prize
'Gill's work stands apart through its strikingly inventive concept, distinctive sense of place, and masterful use of imagery.' 10 out of 10. Booklife Prize Critic's Report
A perfect blend of nature, political intrigue and magic, ‘Arrows Tipped with Honey’ is a thrilling read!
There is a question of the target- what it is, and where it is. Sometimes, it is in the recesses of the heart. Sometimes, in the mind. Those are human concerns. For animals, it's instinctive. Here, you witness both. You remember that humans are also animals.
And therein lies a tale that is not to be missed!
Anything else would give too much away. by all you hold dear as one who lives to read ( I do!), read this!