Before I dive into this review, let me preface by saying that Harriet Alida Lye graduated from the university that I just finished a degree at. She lived in Halifax for a few years and is a very accomplished writer and publisher. Definitely take a look at her website and read about her interesting career at https://harrietalida.com. You won't regret it!
Ok, now on to the review:
This book is like yoga: serene, cleansing, challenging, and sometimes painful.
The Honey Farm has one of the most unique plots that I have come across in a long time.
Set in Northern Ontario, it is about a young woman named Silvia who moves to a remote bee farm that has been marketed as an artists’ colony where she can live for free in exchange for labour. Upon arrival Silvia meets a man named Ibrahim, with whom she begins a relationship. As the summer goes on and more of the visiting artists start to depart for the fall, Silvia finds herself experiencing strange things and is unsure if they are being orchestrated by the owner of the farm, Cynthia.
Lye is a master of foreshadowing and atmosphere. Tiny details add up to create a compelling, frightening story and a climactic ending that you won’t see coming.
In a lot of ways, this book defies categorization. It definitely has a lot of the key components of a thriller, but it is somehow more literary than most thrillers or mysteries on the market today. It has aspects of a romance or a drama, but it doesn’t fall perfectly into those categories, either.
The Honey Farm is both classic and modern, youthful and old. As a young woman myself, there were moments what I deeply related to Silvia and her experiences, and other moments that felt so widely extreme that I couldn’t imagine myself in that situation. It made me feel strangely nostalgic, reminding me of my upbringing in Ontario. The landscape felt very familiar.
The Honey Farm tackles complex issues like religion and mental health, exploring how they affect the lives of her characters and how challenging they can be to navigate. I didn't realize until I had finished the last page of the book just how profound Lye's insights into these issues actually were, since they flowed so seamlessly into the story, never overpowering it but always adding to the backstories and realities of her characters.
I think this book has something for everyone. And, since it is set in the summer on a beautiful, cinematic farm, I think it is the perfect book to read over the next few months.
If you're a fan of Gillian Flynn and her dark, twisting novels, and are looking for something unique and surprising, I think you'll enjoy this character-driven story. It's dark and mysterious, but also lovely. Lye is an exciting author to keep your eye on!