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Rachel-K
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Early Chapters, 1-9

 

Please use this thread to share your thoughts and questions about these early chapters. 

 

A few question to use as a starting point, if you like: 

 

Is Bees and Mist what you expected? What novels have you read (if any) that you might compare to it?

 

What do you make of Meridia's nurse in the first chapters? Is she a protective force for Meridia? What was she going to tell Meridia before she vanished?

 

Why does Meridia disappear in her own house?

 

The story of the fight between the mist and the ghost becomes a kind of fable or magical tale depicting the troubles in a marriage. How well does this fantastical fight demonstrate their unhappiness? What happens to Meridia while she watches this?

 

What are the mists? How does Meridia manage to use them to help her with her project?

 

Who is Hannah? Why doesn't she show up in the hair dresser's mirror?

 

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USwede16
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

[ Edited ]

rkubie wrote:

 

Please use this thread to share your thoughts and questions about these early chapters. 

 

A few question to use as a starting point, if you like: 

 

Is Bees and Mist what you expected? What novels have you read (if any) that you might compare to it?

 


I have to admit that I was not quite sure what to expect when I first heard of Of Bees and Mist. However, since receiving my copy I have not been able to put it down! It is absolutely gripping! One novel that it continually reminds me of is House of the Spirits by Isabella Allende. The paranormal issues that seem to arise for the characters, as well as the relationship struggles that the couples in the novel face bears some resemblence. Unlike,  Hosue of the Spirits, I find myself very much engrossed in what takes place in Of Bees and Mist.

 

So far I give this novel two thumbs up!

Message Edited by USwede16 on 06-01-2009 04:31 AM
"Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly."
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biljounc63
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9


rkubierkubie wrote:

 

Is Bees and Mist what you expected? What novels have you read (if any) that you might compare to it?

 


I see a bit of Harry Potter in this book as I did in the last first look Physick Book of Deliverance. The ever changing stairwell in the house on 24 Monarch Street, the permanent cold, everlasting gloominess and mirrors that show more than reflections. All remind me of some of the magical elements on the Harry Potter series.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
~ Joseph Addison ~

"Reading lets you visit the world of another"
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Sunltcloud
Posts: 933
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

The story is a mix of fairy tale, myth, metaphor, and ordinary life, sprinkled with fresh concepts that express their relationship. I can’t compare it to any other novel, probably because this is the first time I have wandered into this genre, or, maybe, because Mr. Setiawan creates a world that is unique. The closest I can get to a comparison is with the movie “Coraline” not because of the story content but because of the warping of reality and the preoccupied parents. Another comparison I might want to draw has nothing to do with writing, but nevertheless gives us the same concepts, an intertwining of ordinary and extraordinary events; it is the magical realism in Frida Kahlo’s painting. 

 

What I would call a dysfunctional family is at the heart of the difficulties Meridia experiences, and so far I have not detected any “protectors.” The nurse is a rather awkward person, Hannah is a temporary force, and Daniel, well I think that we know too little of Daniel at the end of chapter nine, to call him a protector. Meridia is alone.

  
rkubie wrote:

 

Please use this thread to share your thoughts and questions about these early chapters. 

 

A few question to use as a starting point, if you like: 

 

Is Bees and Mist what you expected? What novels have you read (if any) that you might compare to it?

 

What do you make of Meridia's nurse in the first chapters? Is she a protective force for Meridia? What was she going to tell Meridia before she vanished?

 

Why does Meridia disappear in her own house?

 

The story of the fight between the mist and the ghost becomes a kind of fable or magical tale depicting the troubles in a marriage. How well does this fantastical fight demonstrate their unhappiness? What happens to Meridia while she watches this?

 

What are the mists? How does Meridia manage to use them to help her with her project?

 

Who is Hannah? Why doesn't she show up in the hair dresser's mirror?

 


 

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bookloverjb85
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Registered: ‎10-12-2007
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

When I first started reading this book I was a little confused by what was going on and who the characters were.  Once I read more, though, I was pulled in to the story of Meridia and her life.  The words were captivating and put great visuals into my head.

 

This story is somewhat what I expected, especially since the editor left us that video about how she was pulled into the world of the book.  The story reminds me of a fairytale or a book like "Wicked".  It has a different perspective and is a different type of story than you usually see.

 

It's strange that Meridia "disappears" in her own house, but yet when she walks outside she is very visable to the world because she is wrapped up in many layers of clothes.  She is not used to this and therefore is very uncomfortable when she goes outside with her nurse.  Meridia's nurse is very protective of her and this seems to hinder much of what Meridia does.  She does not get to see the outside world very much and is told that it is not good for her when she does encounter it.

I believe this is the reason that Hannah came to be, it is Meridia's need to be free and rebel against the house, that she invents an "imaginary friend".  Hannah shows Meridia what the outside world looks like and how to have adventures.  She makes Meridia brave enough to venture out of her comfort zone.  When Meridia realizes that Hannah isn't really there she is shocked and disappointed because it was the first friend that she had, but I feel that she needed that in order to grow and eventually find Daniel.

 

We still have yet to find out what that flash of light is that Meridia sees in her dreams, but her nurse was about to tell her when she "left".  I'm not sure what this could be or mean, but hopefully we will find out soon.

--Jen--

"A house without books is like a room without windows."--Horace Mann
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Linda10
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎10-02-2007

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

Hello, everyone!  Well, the day is finally here!  There are already a number of things I would like to post just based on the five posts I've read so far.

 

But -- I am going to start at the very beginning (and I do mean beginning) with the cover of the book.  Did any of you find the hidden pictures?  Did you find the two sets of eyes?  How about the baby?  Or the diamond ring?  Or the spade or shovel?  Or what appears to be perhaps the fawn that we read about in chapter six?

 

This may sound silly; but as soon as I saw this, I thought, "We are in for a nice surprise if someone put this much into just the cover!"

 

I will post more later as I read other posts.  But for right now, as far as Hannah not appearing in the hair dresser's mirror, isn't that the case with vampires too?  I don't believe that Hannah is a vampire; but she could be otherworldly so therefore doesn't really exist in the "real" world.  It could also explain why she never stays in one place for very long.

 

Well, more later.  But I will say that I am enjoying this book so far because it is so different.  It makes it fun!

 

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lisally
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

[ Edited ]

I've peeked but haven't had a chance to start yet.  Hopefully I can catch up soon so I can join in the discussion

 

The main problem has been my PhD qualification exams (which are today and tomorrow, yikes!)  

 

It will be a huge load off when I'm done, and I get to doing things I want to do (ie reading :smileyhappy:)

 

 

EDIT-I found the hidden pictures too!  I didn't notice when I first got the book, but as I looked closer I noticed all the different things entangled in the vines!

Message Edited by lisally on 06-01-2009 07:48 AM
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Sunltcloud
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

Are we suposed to comment on the author's use of language in this book group? Is he looking for suggestions or is the book ready to go to print as is? Anyway here are my observations.

 

He is building some really nice phrases. For instance: "Ravenna moved in a stiff and sudden manner, as though the aim of her action was decided at the tail end of a moment."

 

And "People disappear from one's life like shadows sliding over a room."

 

But I also found some expressions that I questioned.

Page 81. "Suckling pigs and grilled muttons were served." I don't think that mutton (the flesh of mature sheep) has a plural.

 

Page 87. The word "lashes" is used. Shouldn't it be brows?

"Eva drew on her pipe and furrowed her lashes in concern." 

 

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thewanderingjew
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

Is Bees and Mist what you expected? What novels have you read (if any) that you might compare to it?

 

The only expectation that I had for the book was that I would enjoy it. So far, all of the First Look books chosen by Barnes and Noble have had something in them that I have been able to appreciate although some are not the types of books I would have chosen to read on my own. I am actually grateful to B & N for opening my eyes to other reading avenues. The authors they have chosen seem to succeed, for me anyway, in reaching out to the reader drawing them into the book, creating a "mind play", so that one is almost a character on the sidelines, a participant looking on from behind the scenes who is actually on the stage, rather than a mere observer from the audience, so to speak.

 

Just as I don't expect other things in my life to be perfect, I don't expect that from a book either. Once I decide to read a book, unless the language or subject matter become too racy for me or the subject matter holds no interest for me at all or if it is really poorly written, I am usually very receptive to reading it and give it the benefit of the doubt. I plod on and usually find redeeming features. I can view the book critically, but since I start out really wanting to like the book, I suppose that colors my reaction. I look for the positive aspects of the book first and often they overshadow the negative ones for me, so they then merely become incidental. I believe the author writes the book to excite my interest, for whatever purpose, and I want to give him/her every opportunity to succeed. I realize not everyone has the time to give up to give all books a chance, but, luckily, I do. Now, I only have to live long enough to read them all! :smileyvery-happy:


Fantasy and magic are not the usual genre that I read so the only other book I can compare this one to is the last First Look, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, but I haven't read far enough into Of Bees and Mist to know if they are truly comparable or just of the same genre.

 

By the way, Katherine Howe was at the Book Expo autographing her books last weekend.

twj

 

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EbonyAngel
Posts: 276
Registered: ‎12-22-2006
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9


rkubie wrote:

 

Please use this thread to share your thoughts and questions about these early chapters. 

 

A few question to use as a starting point, if you like: 

 

Is Bees and Mist what you expected? What novels have you read (if any) that you might compare to it?

 

What do you make of Meridia's nurse in the first chapters? Is she a protective force for Meridia? What was she going to tell Meridia before she vanished?

 

Why does Meridia disappear in her own house?

 

The story of the fight between the mist and the ghost becomes a kind of fable or magical tale depicting the troubles in a marriage. How well does this fantastical fight demonstrate their unhappiness? What happens to Meridia while she watches this?

 

What are the mists? How does Meridia manage to use them to help her with her project?

 

Who is Hannah? Why doesn't she show up in the hair dresser's mirror?

 


 

So far I am enjoying this book.  I had a hard time putting it down but wanted to stick with the schedule this time, makes it easier to discuss.  Luckily I have another book to read in between.  But, anyhoo. 

I wish I knew what Meridia's Nurse was going to tell her.  I think it's pivotal to the story and she was a protective force.  I also think that whatever her Nurse was going to tell her, she finds out as part of the "long-kept secrets" of her past.  I also don't think that Meridia really disappears but it just seems that way because she is mostly ignored.  As far as Hannah, I think she's part real and part Meridia's imagination.

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EbonyAngel
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9


Linda10 wrote:

Hello, everyone!  Well, the day is finally here!  There are already a number of things I would like to post just based on the five posts I've read so far.

 

But -- I am going to start at the very beginning (and I do mean beginning) with the cover of the book.  Did any of you find the hidden pictures?  Did you find the two sets of eyes?  How about the baby?  Or the diamond ring?  Or the spade or shovel?  Or what appears to be perhaps the fawn that we read about in chapter six?

 

This may sound silly; but as soon as I saw this, I thought, "We are in for a nice surprise if someone put this much into just the cover!"

 

I will post more later as I read other posts.  But for right now, as far as Hannah not appearing in the hair dresser's mirror, isn't that the case with vampires too?  I don't believe that Hannah is a vampire; but she could be otherworldly so therefore doesn't really exist in the "real" world.  It could also explain why she never stays in one place for very long.

 

Well, more later.  But I will say that I am enjoying this book so far because it is so different.  It makes it fun!

 


 

Yes, I noticed the cover.  The curlicues hide so much unless you are really looking.  Is the cover a metaphor for the story, life?  Perhaps.  Then again, maybe I'm reading too much into it.
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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

I'm not sure what I expected from Of Bees and Mist. It took a little time to get me into the story, but now I have questions to be answered.

 

Meridia's nurse aggravated me at first with the over-protectiveness she displayed. But, as I read more and think about what was happening between her parents, I think that the nurse was protecting Meridia from more than the germs outside. The nurse didn't have to stay - the house was cold in many ways. But, she stayed for Meridia; a protective force from the family's problems, at least for a while. I miss her character.

 

Meridia disappears into her house because no one really cares enough to see her. Her parents are cold and cruel by not noticing her. They are so caught up in their own hurts and anger that they forget the little girl in their charge. The desire to keep her from knowing what is wrong between them keeps Meridia from feeling loved and cared for. She doesn't feel that she is really part of a family, so is slowly disappearing from view.

 

 

 I think Hannah is a ghost, which explains why she doesn't show up in the mirror. I wonder who sent her to help Meridia find friendship and wonder in the world. Clearly, Meridia needed a friend. She needed someone to make her feel welcome in the world, worthy of living. Hannah was that person and I miss her character.

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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thewanderingjew
Posts: 2,247
Registered: ‎12-18-2007

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

Who is Hannah? Why doesn't she show up in the hair dresser's mirror?

 

At first I believed she was an imaginary friend as some of the other readers have. She shows up in the book only after the loss of her nurse, which was sudden, without explanation and devastating to Meridia. In much the same way, Hannah disappears from her life, as well. Perhaps, if she was an imaginary friend, in creating Hannah Meridia was coming to terms with the loss of her nurse.

Then, however, there were the letters. If they were real, Hannah was real. On the other hand, perhaps she used the mechanism of the letters to hold onto her a bit longer to enable her to adjust to her real life, thereby letting her go piecemeal, so she could work through her many problems which were, unfortunatley, not imaginary in her life. There were so many people who disappeared from her life in one way or another. Even her father "disappears" at night. Ravenna "disappears" into the mist and she herself views herself as invisible or "disappeared". 

Then I had another thought, I have not read the entire book so I don't know what is truly imaginary in the book and what will turn out to be real. Was the nurse real?  Have all of the events so far been a product of Meridia's imagination?

After all those thoughts I decided to deal with Hannah as an imaginary friend for now. On the surface, she helps her deal with the sadness and loneliness of her life and to look for ways to control it. After the disappearance of the nurse she tried to find reasons for the things she couldn't explain and that no one would explain to her. the letters, if they were imaginary, may have been used to help her work through her many losses which were so real in her own life. Hannah was the vehicle that truly taught Meridia how to love and share and socialize.

Perhaps Hannah was not visible in the mirror because it was a magic mirror in which Meridia saw unpleasant memories or visions, nightmare visions. The nurse never saw the same reflections in the mirror that Meridia did, although the nurse seemed to indicate a knowledge of the "ghosts" in the mirror but seemed afraid to share the information with Meridia.

Hannah was the opposite of a nightmare she was her "dream" friend. To place her in the mirror would have been to place her in her world of loss and sadness. Hannah was the vehicle that truly taught Meridia how to love and share and socialize.

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Amanda-Louise
Posts: 156
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

my thoughts, Early Chapters, 1-9

When the book arrived I was completely taken with the cover.  It was too early to start reading, so I spent some time following each vine to see what secrets were hidden there.  I'm interested to do the same again once finished the book so that I can put associations to the images.

 

Chapters 1&2, Everything in this book is so subtle.  Events are presented in such a commonplace way!  When Meridia was led off in the market by a woman telling her that her mother was just playing a game with her, all my mummy-alarm bells went off.  But not because the episode is written in such a way that they should have gone off.  It was just sort of another event.  Similarly, the mirror and the staircase are presented in such a way that, although the reader is curious, the reader is able to accept it, to suspend disbelief and just enjoy.  One other early observation is that there is no sense of time or place.

 

Chapter 3, More questions piled on top of questions! Ravenna turns into a ghost with a bony protrusion on the back of it's head?  And the mist is the mistress?  Very bizarre!  And how did Meridia come to understand this?

 

Chapters 4, I found the description of the mistress given by Ravenna absolutely hilarious.  Reading the descriptions of what Hannah and Meridia see as they travel about their town on their adventures makes me wonder if this is perhaps an alternative universe (similar to the alternate universe used by Pullman in His Dark Materials).  What is the significance is of the street named Monarch. 

 

Chapter 5,  I'd love to see a movie version of what I've read so far.  I'm sure the special effects would be fabulous!  Meridia find this man, her 'soul mate' and ends up back at the market with him - the same place she lost her mother.  This is where they made plans to meet again.  Has she found something wonderful in the same place or will it turn out equally poorly?

 

Chapters 6-9, I found these chapters were more 'in reality' while dealing with the wedding preparations and with getting her father to agree.  However, still more questions - the green light from Eva's room, the bees?  It's all so curious and I can't wait to get into the coming chapters!

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thewanderingjew
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Registered: ‎12-18-2007
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

Why does Meridia disappear in her own house?

 

I don't think that Meridia truly "disappears" inside her own house. I believe she just feels invisible because she is so totally ignored, emotionally abused and deprived in that setting. She just fades into the background because she is not an active participant in the foreground. She is almost like an inanimate object in her own home. I think she might prefer it that way since when her father notices her she is abused and when her mother notices her she doesn't really "remember" that she is there. I also have the feeling that Ravenna is being driven mad by her magical "talents" and perhaps in ignoring her she is hoping to spare Meridia from the "horrors" and anguish of her own life.  I thought since all of the problems began with Meridia's birth, perhaps Ravenna's magic brought her to life and she has been somehow paying for that action ever since.

There are lots of unanswered questions right now. I am enjoying all of the ideas and theories about so many things that this book invites and cannot wait to continue reading.

 

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ABH47
Posts: 40
Registered: ‎01-27-2007

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

One of the great pleasures I find in reading any novel is being able to visualize the characters and their actions in my head as I am reading, as well as the locations they are in....their "world" so to speak. I think that is why, when books are made into films, there are bound to be disappointments (with a very few exceptions, one, for me, being  Scorsese's "The Age of Innocence", which I think was a perfect adaptation of the book.)

I say this as a preface to my feelings about these first chapters of "Of Bees and Mist". I found the lack of being able to place these characters in any kind of location I could figure out troubling. I understand this is totally a fantasy location, not a real one. But it is difficult to see the characters move around in my mind if there are no clues as to time period,clothing design, societal structure, building descriptions, climate, etc. Is this novel supposed to be in a setting like Eastern Europe? Like India? Like China?  I had a difficult time visualizing the Festival of the Spirits and all those mentioned being in that setting without being able to see them in my mind's eye, and this has lead to some dissatisfaction with the descriptive part of the story. For my purposes alone, therefore, I have decided to put the novel in a setting somewhere in Eastern Europe, a country like Romania, for example, time period, perhaps early 20th century. While I don't like to presume an author's intention, for me it will do for now. It is my visualization, my "movie" so to speak.

As far as the mists go, so far, this is most intriguing. There are different color mists that seem to come and go around this house. Are they ghosts of former occupants of the house? Are the just fabrications of an overactive imagination?  The house itself is haunted....by what? Again, ghosts? Is the house itself under a spell of some kind? These things I am fine with waiting to discover.  And I do like the characters....the description of each of them is crisp and clear. We know where they all are emotionally. What made them this way is what will propel the novel forward. A good thing!

So, thus far I am finding the book somewhat difficult. As I said, I like to visualize as I am reading, and, for me, the author has not given me enough tools to do that, so I have had to invent on my own, which I would rather not do.

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Bonnie824
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9


 

Is Bees and Mist what you expected? What novels have you read (if any) that you might compare to it?

 

It is what I expected from the summary/preview posted here. It reminds me somewhat of Eva Luna (Allende) and Water for Chocolate (Esquire.)

 

What do you make of Meridia's nurse in the first chapters? Is she a protective force for Meridia? What was she going to tell Meridia before she vanished?

She is at least concerned and loving, but hurts Meridia's chances of being normal with her phobias.

 

Why does Meridia disappear in her own house?

Her parents are selfish and self absorbed- and should not have had a child.

 

 

 

Who is Hannah? Why doesn't she show up in the hair dresser's mirror?

She is an imaginary friend, needed by a lonely child.

 


So far, I am really enjoying this book. I want to shake Meridia for being such a victim, but what else could she be really.

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ponkle
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-30-2009
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

As I read the first chapters I was definately pulled into the story, I couldn't put the book down.  The more I read, the more questions I had. I would really like to know the time period the author was thinking of in writing this. Some things seem like long long ago and some seem modern. I was wondering what his relationship with his parents was.

 

I also do not think Meridia was really invisible , it was how she felt. Her parents both ran away from their problems. Her father to his mistress, and her mother to the kitchen. I felt though at least the mother stayed in the house, she was there, a constant even if she didn't pay all the attention to Meridia.

 

I think it was good the nurse left since she was being overprotective, and for Meridia to experience the world she needed to let go.

 

I loved the mists and all the imagery in this book.  Hannah, I'm not sure if ghost or imaginary friend.

 

Well, I have a doctors appointment now so more later.

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Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
Registered: ‎03-23-2007
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Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

Huh?!? I actually didn't see anything but the eyes. Yikes, maybe my "eyes" need some work, although I swear I didn't look that closely... 

 


Linda10 wrote:

Hello, everyone!  Well, the day is finally here!  There are already a number of things I would like to post just based on the five posts I've read so far.

 

But -- I am going to start at the very beginning (and I do mean beginning) with the cover of the book.  Did any of you find the hidden pictures?  Did you find the two sets of eyes?  How about the baby?  Or the diamond ring?  Or the spade or shovel?  Or what appears to be perhaps the fawn that we read about in chapter six?

 

This may sound silly; but as soon as I saw this, I thought, "We are in for a nice surprise if someone put this much into just the cover!"

 

I will post more later as I read other posts.  But for right now, as far as Hannah not appearing in the hair dresser's mirror, isn't that the case with vampires too?  I don't believe that Hannah is a vampire; but she could be otherworldly so therefore doesn't really exist in the "real" world.  It could also explain why she never stays in one place for very long.

 

Well, more later.  But I will say that I am enjoying this book so far because it is so different.  It makes it fun!

 


 

 
Contributor
scarpettajunkie
Posts: 22
Registered: ‎03-23-2009

Re: Early Chapters, 1-9

I was expecting a novel about family but this novel seems to be about the absence of family and what the lack of good family can do to a person.  The magical aspects of this book totally surprised me and yes, I was reminded of Harry Potter and The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. 

 

Meridia's nurse seemed to be cruel, and unfeeling and consumed by wife's tales instead of fact when taking care of Meridia.  I changed my mind about all of this and felt she was the one warm force in Meridia's life and I hope she returns.  She was going to tell more about Meridia's parents relationship and its bearing on the house before she vanished.  Meridia disappears in her own house because she does not know true love. 

 

The fight between the mist and the ghost very aptly describes the gray areas that turn violent or sad in a troubled marriage.  I think this is when Meridia takes things into her own hands and investigates the house and her parents and becomes independent.  The mists are the state of her parents relationship at any given time and she uses them to find out more about her parents feelings and actions. 

 

Hannah is not an imaginary friend.  That is too sad.  I believe she is one of the magical elements but I am not sure what kind of creature except that she is on the side of good.

Scarpettajunkie lover of Cornwell and historical fiction