Their Heart a Hive by Fox N. Locke

It isn’t until meeting Lowen, a lowborn boy dealing with grief and battling bad luck, that the immortal genderqueer aristocrat, Tamorna Rosen Roane, can face the shame of their past lives and move towards catharsis.

Inspired as much by the rugged beauty of south-eastern England as Cornish folklore, this summery gothic portrays a queer-normative society with an 18th century flair. A story of shanties and secrets, of long dead giants and merfolk that mind the sea, where piskies provide luck and the beast of Brasbudfand stalks the night.

Balancing the macabre and the absurd, this unconventional coming of age story promises twists and turns and lyrical prose aplenty. A story about the power of kindness and empathy and how no one is ever beyond help. If you've a love for Jane Eyre, Dracula and queer-centric stories, this debut YA novel may just be for you. 

COVER ARTIST: Teramori (Design)
PUBLISHER: Self Published
YEAR: 2022
LENGTH: 268 pages
AGE: Young Adult
GENRE: Fantasy

Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Genderqueer/Nonbinary Secondary Character(s).

I wanted to like THEIR HEART A HIVE, but things started to go downhill when I realized the protagonist was not the immortal genderqueer aristocrat, but a fourteen-year-old boy (Lowen) who is summoned to pay off his debt for accidentally killing one of their bees. The narrative seemed to act like there was some big mystery that Lowen was gradually unraveling, but I found myself quite unimpressed. The synopsis spoils that the genderqueer noble is immortal, the title spoils that their heart is full of bees, and the remaining mystery as to exactly which historical person they might have been was so uninteresting that I didn't even realize it was supposed to be a mystery. The answer to why no one is allowed on the second floor, a trope endemic to gothic literature, was ultimately boring. There's a message towards the end about all the servants being like one big family, but that fell flat when Lowe eats almost all his meals alone and mostly doesn't interact with more than one person at a time.

The topic of sexual content in YA books is a tricky one, because many real teenagers do have sex, and some will argue that stories for teens should reflect that reality. This one handles it with antiquated euphemisms, tending to elide over aspects of Lowen's past that seem to include sexual abuse from an older noble boy several years ago. 

This is one where I can't tell if the story didn't accomplish what it meant to do, or it did manage it and I just don't like it. Either way, this wasn't for me.

Moderate CW for sexual content, child abuse, alcohol, fire, vomit, excrement, violence, injury detail, torture, medical content, death.

Minor CW for sexual abuse, drug use, abandonment, suicide attempt.

Add this on TheStoryGraph

A person with golden-brown skin, wearing a white cravat and blue coat, with a gold and pearl pin on the cravat. A bee rests on the corner of their mouth, and honey drips from their lips.


Popular Posts