The Death of Bees (Hardcover)

Staff Pick Logo
The Death of Bees Cover Image
Special Order

Staff Reviews

    Sisters Marnie and Nell have a little secret they would like to keep buried- two, actually.  Marnie is the oldest and has been more of a parent to Nell than anyone else, Nell is a 12 year old violin prodigy with an outdated vocabulary due to watching too many old films.  When their parents drug habit orphans them, Marnie makes up her mind that since she is nearly sixteen and will then be legally an adult, she and Nell will tell no one about what has happened.  But getting them buried in the back yard proves to be only the beginning of their troubles.  Lennie, their neighbor, soon realizes that the children's parents seem to have abounded them and steps in to help, but Lennie has troubles of his own.  Filled with marvelously flawed characters that keep giving you hope even in the darkest moments "The Death of Bees" will grab you from the first page.

— Matt

January 2013 Indie Next List

“Beginning with two children who bury their parents in their garden, The Death of Bees had me hooked from page one. Streetwise teen Marnie and her younger, socially awkward, violin prodigy sister find their parents dead and attempt to cover up their deaths to avoid foster care, with both help and hindrance from some surprising sources. Told from the point of view of multiple characters, this lively, suspenseful, and darkly hilarious tale transfixed me from gruesome start to wonderfully satisfying finish. Brilliant, delightful, and thought provoking!”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI


A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel, The Death of Bees is a coming-of-age story in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.

Marnie and Nelly, left on their own in Glasgow's Hazlehurst housing estate, attempt to avoid suspicion until Marnie can become a legal guardian for her younger sister.

Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, and told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for each other.

Praise For…

“O’Donnell’s finely drawn characters display the full palette of human flaws and potential. Told in the alternating voices of Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie, this beautifully written page-turner will have readers fretting about what will become of the girls.”
-Booklist (starred review)

“The sisters and Lennie narrate alternating chapters, moving the story along at a fast clip....The difference between the sisters in terms of personality and maturity puts them at odds despite their shared fear of discovery. But their resilience suggests hope for their blighted lives.”
-Publishers Weekly (boxed review)

“An unusual coming-of-age novel that features two sisters who survive years of abuse and neglect....The author’s experience as a screenwriter is most definitely apparent, as the reader always hears the voices and can visualize the dramatic, sometimes appallingly grim scenes. Recommended.”
-Kirkus Reviews

The Death of Bees is completely addictive. A beautiful and darkly funny story of two sisters building a fantasy within a nightmare.”
-Alison Espach, author of The Adults

The Death of Bees is compelling stuff, engaging the emotions from the first page and quickly becoming almost impossible to put down.”
-Herald (Scotland)

“As the action reaches a feverish climax…dark comedy is replaced by nerve-shredding tension…the reader is thoroughly caught up in the emotional trials and tribulations of two unlikely heroines….Warm without being cozy, explicit without being shocking, and emotive without being schmaltzy…a powerful coming-of-age tale…”

“This vibrantly-imagined novel, by turns hilarious and appalling, is hard to resist.”
-Daily Mail (London)

“Mixing The Ladykillers with Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House… O’Donnell adeptly balances caustic humour and compassion.”

The Death of Bees steadily draws you into its characters’ emotional lives.”
-Financial Times

“The most original and incredible piece of writing I’ve come across in years.”
-Helen Fitzgerald, author of Dead Lovely

“Warm without being cozy, explicit without being shocking, and emotive without being schmaltzy . . . a powerful coming-of-age tale.”

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062209849
ISBN-10: 0062209841
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: January 2nd, 2013
Pages: 320
Language: English

Buy a Giftcard

Digital audiobooks McLean Eakin Booksellers Petoskey michigan

It's the perfect gift & they

work both in store and online!!

Indie Next List

This feature require that you enable JavaScript in your browser.