A few years ago, I heard about this book from one of my favorite Booktubers. I put it on my Amazon wish list for a while because I could not find it in any bookstores near me. When I went to Toronto a couple of weekends ago, I finally found it in Bakka Phoenix. Support an independent bookstore and get a book I have wanted for ages? Yes, Please.
At the Mouth of the River of Bees is a short story collection that includes animals, nature, Japanese mythology, and some analysis of humanity. Some stories are a bit bizarre, others are deeply emotional, many contain humor, and most contain a little bit of everything. Some are very short, and a couple are so long that they could probably be turned into novellas. There’s a story about a fox who falls in love with a man, dogs that can talk, a cat who walks a thousand miles, a man who builds a bridge over mist, a pregnant warrior woman, and man who’s wife turns into a bird.
I would easily give the majority of the stories in this collection five stars. In fact, when I was about halfway through the collection, I was pretty sure the collection as a whole would get five out of five stars from me. However, there were a couple of stories that I completely disliked (or just didn’t understand the point of). The one I liked the least involved a female astronaut and an alien. She and the alien had sex constantly, and there was a lot of description about the alien’s multiple holes (“Spar”). Perhaps a metaphor for rape? The struggles of feminism? I don’t know. Some of the stories are pretty dark (“Ponies,” “Spar”), while others were pretty wholesome and cute (“The Cat Who Walked A Thousand Miles,” “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”). There is a lot of creativity and originality in this collection. Some of the fantasy or sci-fi worlds that the author created felt very complex. They could easily be expanded upon for a novel or have other stories take place within the world. This is just a very “me” collection with all the animal stories and magical realism. So, overall, I rated this collection 4 or 4.5 stars.
Still on the fence about this collection? Read or listen to some of the stories before you buy!