“Gothic and subtly menacing, a book as rich as the sweet substance at its core.” —Grace O’Connell, author of Magnified World
The drought has discontented the bees. Soil dries into sand and honeycomb stiffens into wax. But Cynthia knows how to breathe life back into her farm: she’ll advertise it as an artists’ colony with free room, board, and “life experience” in exchange for labour from aspiring artists.
Wide-eyed Silvia is sitting on her childhood bed, just three days from graduating college, when she sees the ad. She doesn’t think of herself as much of an artist, having written just one poem in her entire life, but the chance to test her independence proves irresistible, as does the man she meets on the honey farm. Ibrahim is a passionate, inspired painter who has also been lured from the clutch of his loving family to the colony, which at first seems utterly idyllic. To Silvia, Ibrahim, and a group of residents of mixed ability and enthusiasm, Cynthia spoons out her hard-won knowledge about the science of harvesting honey and the dramatic hierarchical dynamics at work within the hives.
But something lies beneath the surface. The edenic farm is plagued by events that strike Silvia, with an extremely Catholic background, as ominous: water runs red, frogs swarm the pond, and scalps itch with lice. One by one the other residents depart, leaving only Ibrahim and Silvia, perilously in love under Cynthia’s watchful eye. Silvia and Cynthia circle each other warily – as Cynthia says of the bees: “you can’t have two queens at once.” As a sultry summer cools to autumn, Silvia becomes paralyzed by doubt: is she truly in danger, or is she losing her mind?
In the hands of brilliant newcomer Harriet Alida Lye, the natural world is both lovely and menacing, as lushly depicted as the interior lives of her characters. Building to a shocking conclusion, The Honey Farm announces the arrival of a bold new voice and offers a thrilling portrait of creation and possession in the natural world.
“Mysterious, suspenseful, and unnerving, The Honey Farm offers a thrilling narrative that examines the distorted realities and conflicting perceptions that often exist in the quietest places.” –Iain Reid, bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things
“Beguiled by the promise of a writers’ retreat, Silvia leaves her staunchly Catholic family home for the uncertain territory of a honey farm in Northern Ontario. The Honey Farm offers readers an accomplished meditation on love, creativity and the wonder of the natural world, and a gripping exploration of a community that is perhaps not as it seems.” —Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls
“In The Honey Farm, Harriet Alida Lye has created a modern-day Eden, shot through with innocence and foreboding. The landscape of this gripping debut is alive with tension and temptation, and I found myself seduced alongside Lye’s unforgettable characters.” –Adrienne Celt, author of The Daughters
“[A] mesmerizing, suspenseful novel. Harriet Alida Lye is a writer of prodigious talent and The Honey Farm a thrilling, chills-inducing debut. Brava!” –Carol Bruneau, award-winning author of Glass Voices and These Good Hands
“I loved this book. The way Harriet Alida Lye captures and registers moments of encounter with gentleness and specificity, like bees bumping against flowers – there’s magic afoot here.” –Lauren Elkin, author of Flaneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London
“In this sensuous debut, the honey is golden and enchanting, with an unexpected taste. Impetuous and passionate and utterly unpredictable, you’ll want to spend your entire summer on The Honey Farm.” –Courtney Maum, author of Touch