Summerbook #10: Honeycomb

 Honeycomb, by Joanne M. Harris

This is a rather fascinating collection of....very short stories?  chapters?  which all weave together into a complex set of tales.  Harris explains in the afterword that it started off as little stories on Twitter, which forced her to write tightly, and people would ask for more stories about their favorites, and after a while she had "a new medium for folklore.  An interlinked series of stories, all set in the same honeycomb multiverse as [two other books] and with an overarching storyline about love, magic, the power of story, and the quest for redemption."  Neat, hm?

The stories revolve around the Silken Folk -- what you'd usually call Faerie, which here is also the world of insects -- and their interactions with the Sightless Folk, which are of course humans.  The Honeycomb Queen is the first of these, and her son, the Lacewing King, is the protagonist.  He grows up to be cruel and ruthless, and his various adventures, and long accidental exile, hold the tales together.  But those chapters are interspersed with single short folktales, a series of fables set in a barnyard (some of these are on the heavyhanded side), and other stories that eventually link up to the main thread, introducing new characters.   Harris does some clever things with all of this.

The Lacewing King, his few friends, and his many enemies move across and through the Worlds, eventually getting all the way down to Hel, the land of the dead.  I probably shouldn't say more than that.  But it's a complex and fascinating book, which fantasy fans will love.

Charles Vess contributes lovely illustrations, so I recommend reading this in a paper copy, not an ebook.  Maybe those illustrations are why I felt that the book had kind of a 90s flavor to it?  I tend to associate this kind of thing -- fairy tale retellings, Vess, Sandman as well -- with the 90s,  I enjoyed it a lot, and I bet plenty of other folks will too.


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