The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell – Blog Tour and Book Review

Thank you for sharing...Share on YummlyPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on FacebookShare on Reddit

About the Book:

• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Harper (January 2, 2013)
Today is Christmas Eve.
Today is my birthday.
Today I am fifteen.
Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
Neither of them were beloved.
Marnie and her little sister, Nelly, are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Maryhill housing estate isn’t grand, the girls do have each other. Besides, it’s only a year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both.
As the New Year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbors are alone and need his help. Or does he need theirs? Lennie takes them in—feeds them, clothes them, protects them—and something like a family forms. But soon enough, the sisters’ friends, their teachers, and the authorities start asking tougher questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls’ family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.
Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for one another.

About the Author:

Lisa O’Donnell won the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for The Wedding Gift and, in the same year, was nominated for the Dennis Potter New Screenwriters Award. A native of Scotland, she is now a full-time writer and lives in Los Angeles with her two children. The Death of Bees is her first novel.
Connect with Lisa on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

My Opinion:

Marnie and Nelly are two very unique young ladies who have been brought up by the most horrible parents; neglectful, drug addicted and abusive. Marnie is 15 and Nelly is 12 when both parents die – I won’t tell you how – and so as to not be sent into a foster care system they bury them in the back yard. I cannot tell you how disturbing it was to be laughing out loud at these scenes, but I was. This book is vulgar, it is profane, it is highly disturbing and it is excellent.

The girls try to continue on as normally as possible and sadly no one really notices that their parents are missing for quite some time. The neighbor across the way, Lennie begins to note something wrong and he starts to slowly care for them and give them a sense of family they never had before. Lennie is a neighborhood pariah due to his homosexuality and an embarrassing attempt to hire an underaged male prostitute after the death of his long term lover. But he gives the girls more structure and family life than their parents ever did but as soon as they start feeling settled it all starts falling apart again.

The story is told in a series of very short, alternating chapters in the voices of the main characters; each one unique and each one written in a completely different style; Marnie’s voice is hard for a 15 year old. She is quite intelligent but she has had several relationships with married men that hint at darker issues at home and she sells drugs to make money to feed her sister. Nelly speaks in what can only be described as old lady movie talk. It’s odd for a 12 year old and the reader soon learns it’s a defense mechanism. She is also a violin prodigy but has not played in a long time. Lennie writes as a sort of letter to his lead lover. 

It is a very dark book with some horrifying events as I’m sure you can imagine – the children bury their dead parents in the back yard for heaven’s sake and Lennie’s dog has a habit of digging around where they are buried and finding various bones and such and carrying them around in his mouth at odd times. But what truly comes through is the love these two girls have for each other and their determination to stay together no matter what. And their simple desire for a family.

I’m keeping this one. I’m sure I’ll find things I missed on the first read through because it was one of those books that I just flew through and it deserves a second, more thoughtful reading. There is much hidden in the background here if the reader looks for it. A powerful novel even when one finds oneself laughing out loud when a dog walks into a room with an foot in its mouth. Sick, I know. You will just have to read the book to understand. The only reason I have not given it a 5 is the facile way it wraps up. I would have expected more.



You can see The Death of Bees Tour Schedule

You can purchase The Death of Bees from

Disclosure:  I was sent a free copy of The Death of Bees by TLC Book Tours for my honest review. I received no compensation for my post.


  1. says

    When I first read the summary of this one, it made me think of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in a Castle…which I LOVED. I’ll have to get this one! Enjoyed your review!

  2. says

    I love this exploration of family! When I read Geek Love, someone in my book club said that if you peel back all the weirdness, it’s essentially a story of sibling rivalry and family dynamics. I loved that book so I think I would love this one too.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge