Review: The Last Beekeeper by Rebecca L. Fearnley

I loved this dystopian-ish environmental fantasy novel. It’s nearly 500 pages long, but I tore through it in one sitting. Thank you to the author for sharing an ARC with me, and for writing this lovely book.

I don’t read a lot of the subgenre often called environmental fantasy. Honestly, I tend to find it either stressful (if I wanted to remember the Earth is dying, I would pay attention to the news, not read fantasy) or preachy (I already know recycling is good, I don’t need a whole book to tell me). But Fearnley doesn’t fall into either of these traps.

Instead, she creates a beautiful future world that is complete in itself, not just a heavy-handed commentary on our own. Her writing is fluid and lyrical, and the world is animated with believably human characters. The hero, Solma, is a likable and complex character. It was a neat change to see a dystopian fantasy that looked through the eyes of someone who works for the guard that polices the community, and who wants to fit in. She doesn’t start out as someone who isn’t like everyone else and wants to tear down an unfair society. She wants to belong, she wants what’s best for her community, but she also is thrust into a position of needing to act against the expectations that have been placed on her.

Her little brother, Warren, is central to the story. He is the rare believable child character, whimsical and sweet without being saccharine. They had a truly lovable relationship.

I might have liked to see the magic worldbuilding expanded on a bit–it was very interesting, but came into the story rather late for my taste. However, overall this is a standout read that I highly recommend.

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