A fun and creative concept with some good writing, but suffers a bit from lack of focus and trying to squeeze in too many ideas. Not enough to history to deserve the ‘historical fiction’ moniker, but a great part of the story. A good start as a debut, and a nice, light weekend beach read minus the beach.
The synopsis of The Honeybee Emeralds tells you about a story of three female friends who embark on a glitzy journey through both historical and modern-day Paris to uncover the secrets of a famed jewel necklace. While this is generally sort of true, it’s also quite misleading. I would propose the alternative of “two former BFF’s, one of their employees, and a bunch of men do some amateur sleuthing to learn about a mysterious necklace, which was found in a room of riches someone somehow forgot”.
Please don’t get me wrong – it is a fun story with a great concept, some thoughtful characters, and the audio narration by Lameece Issaq is wonderful – it just isn’t quite fully baked.
The story is packed with characters, and Issaq’s delivery of them helped immensely in keeping them all straight with (sometimes creative) use of accents and varying tones. There were a few points, particularly early on, where the tempo seemed to miss a few beats, but otherwise it was a very enjoyable listen.
Said characters are a unique bunch, hailing from various places such as Iceland, the US, and Iran via the UK. Of the female leads, Lily stands out as the most believable and self-aware, without unnecessary drama. Daphne feels like she is “Emily in Paris” plus 10 years and a drop in relevance, and is honestly kind of hard to love, but brings some conflict that does ultimately allow some personal growth for a few people. Alice is, well…I don’t know. She is 23, but reads as much younger and what seems to have been intended as quirkiness is actually a bit creepy. Despite the downfalls, they do actually meld together in an unexpected way, and become pretty credible in their roles.
Where this has room to grow is in having a solid foundation, but being built without enough focus. In brief, there is just too much. Too many characters, too much time spent trying to develop too many characters, and too many side arcs that don’t add value to the story. Alice’s every-other-day side trips were unnecessary and a bit stalker-like, Daphne’s diva Insta-thoughts and the text message threads were distractions rather than adding anything, and Lily’s dating dilemmas were a lackluster drag out (though I do like how they ended, and these could have been a stronger plot had some attention on other characters been left out in favor of better developing this). Overall, I would have loved to see more attention given to building fewer characters, and more time spent in the historical scenes; while those sections add richness to story very well, there is not enough too them to really call this historical fiction in any true sense.
As a debut novel, it’s a good start and I hope to see more from Amy Tector as her experience and writing evolves.
The Honeybee Emeralds
By Amy Tector
Read by Lameece Issaq
Publication: March 29, 2022
Thank you to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.