Cover Image: The Honey and the Sting

The Honey and the Sting

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Thank you to the publisher and Net Halley for providing a e-book for review. 

First off - I am in love with the cover on this book. I also adore the fact that bees, which can be seen on the cover are woven into the story throughout. 

This book is set in 17th Century England and blends a mix of fact and fiction (noted in the Afterward, which I really appreciated). The story is full of twists and turns and (apart from the parts based in history) I was personally never 100% sure where these would end up helping to keep me invested in the story. The story was well paced with elements of thriller and suspense dotted throughout. The historical side of the story is obviously well research and characters who appear in the book (both real and imagined) are well developed. I definitely ended up rooting for a few of them to have better outcomes than it appeared they were going to have. 

Overall I enjoyed my dive back into historical fiction and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by this author.
Was this review helpful?
BEES!! Need I say more?

Historical fiction is genre that I don’t explore very often however the supernatural elements in the description meant this was one book I had to try. Of course I never judge a book by the cover but BEES!!!
As well as loving the cover I also loved the way the bees form an integral part of the story and the affinity Melis has with them.

The story moves along at a suitable pacing for the time period it is set in and the author manages to keep the reader off balance for the entire journey. Who is really responsible for certain things that happen and why oh why do certain characters behave as they do. Without giving away any spoilers there were two characters I really wanted to do better for two totally different reasons and it was these characters who kept me on the edge of my seat and prevented me from ever fully relaxing and thinking things are OK now.

I really appreciated the afterword where Fremantle explains which parts of the book are historical fact as opposed to fiction and how her female characters are drawn from real life women of the time but blended together to make totally new people.

Who would like this? Historical fiction fans and those who appreciate a female centric story even if said females do at times make completely stupid decisions, well it was the 1600s so bless them…
Was this review helpful?
Set in the 17th century, EC Fremantle imagines this suspenseful and tense mystery with this blend of fact and fiction, featuring the real life George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, a royal favourite, but by this stage an unpopular figure in England. For those who have studied the details of this period of history, they will likely be familiar with his fate, so parts of where the novel can be heading will be forseen. Villiers is clearly the baddie, a man who raped Hester, who goes on to give birth to a son, Rafe, whom she raises and is protective of. She is one of three sisters with strong bonds with each other, Melis with her connection with bees, and the remarkable ability to see into the future with her visions, visions that leave her open to the dangers of being denounced as a witch, and as such must be protected. Young Hope is so beautiful that she attracts unwanted attention to the family, and unsuitable men that she is not always capable of resisting.

Villiers has decided that he wishes to reclaim his illegitimate son, Rafe, and there is no way that Hester, with her secrets, will acquiesce to this demand. There is nothing she will not do to keep Rafe safe as she and her sisters plan a escape to a sanctuary provided by family connections. However, Villiers is an extremely powerful man, and he puts a trusted man in charge of finding them and taking care of 'business'. It has to be said that the sisters make a set of poor decisions and have a penchant for trusting too easily in this intriguing and compelling story. Will they be able to survive? This is entertaining historical fiction with twists, of sisters, being a mother, secrets, the precarious position of women in this time period, and the social norms, attitudes and expectations they faced.

This will appeal to those interested in this historical period and enjoy their suspense. Many thanks to the publisher for the novel.
Was this review helpful?
A gripping and enjoyable thriller, but not the historical fiction I was hoping for. Well written, however personally I struggled in the flip between narration. A good read though, and I will definitely read more by this author.
Was this review helpful?
Very well written, the language was beautiful. A great balance between historical fiction and supernatural intrigue.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting read that I'm glad to have discovered. I'll definitely be seeking out more by this author.
Was this review helpful?
Every now and then I like to challenge myself with my reading and step completely outside of my comfort zone. I feel that this is what I managed to do with The Honey and the Sting by E.C. Fremantle. Historical fiction is something that I often shy away from but this book is proof of the reward for trying something different. 

Set in the 17th century we learn about three sisters, Hester, Melis and Hope. This book also features George Villiers who was the 1st Duke of Buckingham and from what I could ascertain a thoroughly objectionable man. He gets Hester pregnant against her will and then Hester is cast out of the house. The sisters go on the run but they all have secrets to hide. Things get a lot more complex when George Villiers decides to claim his son. Is their secret going to be a help or a poison chalice?

I loved the gothic feel to this story and the inner strength portrayed by the women. They don't know who to trust but I was rooting for them and enjoyed the tension building up and finding out if the girls could evade George Villiers. 

I enjoyed the beautiful writing and the drama that unfolded as the pages turned. I feel that I learnt quite a lot from the book and there are also supernatural elements. Intrigue built up as the book went on and carried on throughout. 

I would definitely read more of this authors books in the future.
Was this review helpful?
The Honey and the Sting is set in England, 1628 and focuses on the three sisters: Hester (a single mother to an illegitimate son), Melis (a woman with visions of what is to come) and the youngest: Hope (a girl of naivety). It takes place in the first person perspective of Hester as the father of her son, Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, tries to claim his illegitimate son, and also the third person perspective of Hope.

Villiers will go to any lengths to keep his secret hidden and is desperate to remove the threat of the three sisters.

This novel was incredible. I think first and foremost it is so important I mention this. A beautiful historical fiction novel with an amazing English backdrop with a remote home in Shropshire! The three central women are marvellous and each an exciting character in their own right - I was particularly impressed by the decision to never give Melis a leading perspective as to keep her visions as an unknown and ambiguous concept to a reader. This was such a meticulous choice and made me fall in love with Melis even more! Amazing work here.

This story captured my attention and held it with such ease, with a focus on familial love and girl power, what wasn't to love?

This is the very first book of Fremantle's I have ever read, and I certainly endeavour to read more of her works!
Was this review helpful?
This was such a thrilling and enjoyable read. I was hooked when it got half way through the novel. I loved how the sisters were written and they were all so distinctive and interesting. There were a few moments I didn't live but they weren't major issues with the book.
Was this review helpful?
A fast paced, gripping and interesting story that mixes historical fiction and thriller elements.
Great character development, a vivid and well researched historical background, excellent storytelling.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and it's highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
Was this review helpful?
In the early 17th century live three sisters, beautiful Hope, strange Melis and practical Hester.  Hester has a son born out of wedlock to a powerful Duke who decides to claim his son, the three sisters escape to a remote house in the middle of a wood but are pursued.  Fearing their family friend and helper Ambrose dead they are forced to trust the man purporting to come from him, Lieutenant Bloor.  Bloor is dead however and they are actually at the mercy of Lieutenant Felton, a childhood friend of the Duke, who is charged with taking the child and stopping any interference from Hester.
This is a very dreamy, almost magical, book which explores some difficult themes.  The semi-redemption of Felton is one, as is his relationship with George and the hidden secret.  The sisters are lightly drawn but powerful creatures and each brings a different aspect to the story.  It is not the most pleasant tale at times but does have a moral ending.
Was this review helpful?
This was a fast-paced historical thriller. If you're expecting your normal historical fiction that slowly builds the world and characters, it's not your gem then. I enjoyed it a lot because I love both historical fiction and thrillers, so the combination was really good. 
I liked the writer's style as well. It was a feminist revenge story that was very readable and intriguing.

Thanks a lot to the publisher and NG for this copy.
Was this review helpful?
Thankyou Netgalley for another enjoyable read. Set in England 1628 this is another historical fiction i have come to find myself enjoy tremendously this year, considering it is not usually a genre I go for until recently. The story follows three sisters, Hester, Melissa & Hope who go against the odds of survival as well as against what is expected of women within that time. Each sister brings a different dynamic to the story as they flee their family home to protect Hester's illegitimate son Rafe from his father. Not only is the story a well written piece for the time in which it is set, but the cover is equally as beautiful
Was this review helpful?
History from the perspective of the little people

In the seventeenth century, despite their apparent powerlessness, three very different sisters – Hester, Melis and Hope – join forces to outwit the most charismatic and manipulative man in England, George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, royal favourite of both James I and Charles I.

Set during a drowsy summer, the novel takes as its focal point Buckingham’s real-world assassination by John Felton, a discontented army officer in 1628, and works backwards to ‘explain’ it. The psychic powers of Melis combine with the real-life magic of the bees to create a story that is at once historical thriller, family saga and brutal revenge tragedy.

I have read and enjoyed many EC Fremantle novels, which are usually about the stars of history. This novel was intriguing in showing the lives of ordinary women, slap bang in the middle of society (their father was a doctor), and the misogyny they had to contend with.
Was this review helpful?
I've been meaning to read more historical fiction so I was really excited to pick this one up, however i ended up dnfing this at 36% because, frankly, I was bored.

The story isn't bad, really, and people interested in the time period the book set in likely will get more out of it than I did, but I just needed something /more/ to stay interested. I was really disappointed in the villain because even though he was described as charismatic, none of that charisma shone through in his interactions with the other characters. The protagonists, too, seemed a bit single-faceted to me. I don't need to relate to characters but I need to at least find them interesting. and sadly that just didn't happen for me. The switches between third and first person narration were also a little jarring. 

Unfortunately, this just wasn't it for me.
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph U.K. for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Honey and the Sting’ by E C Fremantle in exchange for an honest review.

“There is a wasp in our hive, we must be rid of it.” - Melis.

England, 1628. Doctor’s daughter, Hester, had been forcibly seduced by the powerful George Villiers, then cast aside when she fell pregnant. She returned home to the village of Iffley to raise her son, Rafe, hoping to never see Villiers again.

Her sister, Melis, has a strong affinity with the bees that she raises for honey. On occasion, she makes pronouncements about what is to come. Hester protects her from any accusations of witchcraft, a real danger in this period of English history. Their youngest sister Hope, who was adopted as an infant, is a great beauty. She often draws unwelcome advances that on occasion she finds hard to resist. 

The orphaned sisters live a quiet pastoral life though as Rafe’s ninth birthday approaches, Villiers decides to claim him against Hester's protests. The sisters’ only option is to flee and go into hiding. 

In addition, Hester holds a secret that could endanger Villiers’ position at Court. Learning of this, Villiers enlists the aid of his former comrade, John Felton, to track them, recover his son and eliminate the threat posed by the sisters. Felton is down on his luck and flattered that Villiers, who had been his lover, chose him to undertake this sensitive task. 

Felton is one of the three narrative points of view in the novel. The others are Hester, whose chapters are in first person, and Hope.

The given name of Melis, is related to Melissa, the Greek name for bee. I have long been fascinated by the symbolism and mythology of bees, including their link to prophetic visions, which fits perfectly with Melis’ role in the novel.

Full marks to Fremantle for creating interesting characters whose fate I came to care about. Hester is such a powerful force, fierce as a lioness in her protection of her loved ones. Even Felton, who so easily have been portrayed as an all out baddie, is revealed as complex in his motivations.

Fremantle says that she was inspired by Jacobean revenge dramas to write this novel. While the sisters are fictional, George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Lieutenant Felton are both historical figures, and have made a number of appearances in works of fiction, most notably ‘The Three Musketeers’. 

Overall, I found ‘The Honey and the Sting’ an excellent work of historical fiction with elements of the uncanny and a strong grounding in period detail. It was a thrilling read with danger constantly stalking the sisters and had a satisfying resolution.

On a side note, the cover art is exquisite.

I certainly plan to look into Fremantle’s earlier books.

Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
The year is 1628 and three sisters, Hester, Melis and Hope are living alone alongside Hesters son, Rafe.  Rafe was conceived when Hester was raped by George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham.  

As Rafe is now approaching his 8th birthday, the Duke announces he is taking his son home with him, by force if necessary.  The sisters flee their home and hide to protect Rafe from his villian of a father.

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece of historical fiction.  It was fast paced and I was left biting my nails throughout!  I loved the three sisters and the bond they shared, maybe because I am one of three sisters myself?  A fantastic piece of writing!  Highly recommend!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the ARC and allowing me to review it.
Was this review helpful?
England, 1628.

Forcibly seduced by the powerful George Villiers, doctor's daughter Hester is cast aside to raise her son alone and in secret. She hopes never to see Villiers again.

Melis's visions cause disquiet and talk. She sees what other's can't - and what has yet to be. She'd be denounced as a witch if Hester wasn't so carefully protective.

Young Hope's beauty marks her out, drawing unwelcome attention to the family. Yet she cannot always resist others' advances. And her sisters cannot always be on their guard.


This novel is readable enough and not unenjoyable, rattling on with a gripping pace and touching on the deplorable limitations and strictures and prejudices put on women in the seventeenth century. I was a little concerned that we would be subjected to a litany of Villiers' abuse, but he is fortunately an invidious but generally off stage presence, his influence and threat almost palpable. 

Personally I would have liked to have slowed the pace down a little, to have built the world more - and its touches on the supernatural and mystical: Melis and the sisters' house were wonderful but a tad underplayed.
Was this review helpful?
This felt more like a thriller to me than historical fiction, so unfortunately for me that mans it’s not really my cup of tea. There wasn’t anything wrong at all, the writing was really good, the story seemed good, it’s just not my thing.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Was this review helpful?
The Honey and the Sting by E C Fremantle

A fast paced story that reads like a thriller. I wanted to keep picking it up and reading. It’s not a story that will stay with me but I enjoyed the experience of reading it! 

I loved the character of Melis and wanted to hear more from her and the bees. 

I struggled with the flip between Hester as a first person narrator and the other characters in third person. I don’t think this worked as a writing style, personally I think it would have been better with everyone in the third person.
Was this review helpful?