Author: Julie Carrick Dalton

Rating: 5 stars

Publication Date: March 7th, 2023

Genre: Literary Fiction, Dystopian

Format read: Print ARC

StoryGraph Summary: It’s been more than a decade since the world has come undone, and Sasha Severn has returned to her childhood home with one goal in mind—find the mythic research her father, the infamous Last Beekeeper, hid before he was incarcerated.

There, Sasha is confronted with a group of squatters who have claimed the quiet, idyllic farm as a way to escape the horrific conditions of state housing. While she feels threatened by their presence at first, the friends soon become her newfound family, offering what she hasn’t felt since her father was imprisoned: security and hope. Maybe it’s time to forget the family secrets buried on the farm and focus on her future.

But just as she settles into her new life, Sasha witnesses the impossible. She sees a honeybee, presumed extinct. People who claim to see bees are ridiculed and silenced for reasons Sasha doesn’t understand, but she can’t shake the feeling that this impossible bee is connected to her father’s missing research. Fighting to uncover the truth could shatter Sasha’s fragile security and threaten the lives of her new-found family—or it could save them all.

Sasha’s journey is a meditation on forgiveness and redemption and a reminder to cherish the beauty that still exists in this fragile world.

Find the Book: StoryGraph | Goodreads | Bookshop

I was given a print Advanced Reader’s Copy from SparkPoint Studio in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you to Leilani from SparkPoint for this ARC!

The Review

The Last Beekeeper is the best book I have read so far in 2023. 

Let me start off with my favorite part of this novel: the writing style. Julie Carrick Dalton crafts vivid, poetic descriptions that left my skin tingling and my head swimming. The way she describes the feeling of being surrounded by bees transported me to a forest near a hive, and I could almost feel the vibrations in my one-bedroom apartment in the city.

I am not typically a fan of dystopias, but love is such a throughline in this story that I don’t even mind how depressing a picture of the world the book paints. The world is sad but still filled to the brim with the power of love and hope. 

This novel uses a non-linear timeline to follow the main character Sasha, the daughter of the infamous Last Beekeeper. In this dystopian future, bees have gone extinct and the economy has collapsed, leaving major food scarcity and a need for humans to hand pollinate plants. On her twenty-second birthday, Sasha travels back to her childhood home, finally willing to dig into her past over a decade after her father was imprisoned for keeping bees when beekeeping in private dwellings had been deemed illegal by the state. When she arrives, she finds a group of four people squatting on the property: Gino, Ian, Millie and Halle. She quickly finds herself wanting to claim this place as her home, and these new housemates as her family. 

This book focuses on Sasha as she seeks to uncover the research her father went to jail to protect, and her determination to find out if bees are somehow still alive in a world where reporting bee sightings finds people mysteriously dead or disappearing. Through Sasha’s eyes, we see her love of the world and the feelings of grief she fought so hard to overcome. Through this beautiful story about found family, we get to see Sasha find the courage to persevere and take charge to find out once and for all if bees really are extinct. And with that, we see her process her loss and grief to find hope, joy and freedom. 

Dalton crafts a truly remarkable story that will have you savoring your tea with honey and thanking your local beekeepers. You’ll see  not only how much she pulls from her own experiences as a former beekeeper but also how much love she holds for one of the most misunderstood heroes of nature. 

I cannot recommend this story enough. Upon release, please do yourself a favor and buy a copy of this book. You will not regret it!