I’ve been a big fan of the Penny White series since I read the first book, and “The Business of Bees,” the 8th book in the series, does not disappoint. In fact, the series just goes from strength to strength.
If you haven’t read any of the earlier books, you might want to go back and read a few before jumping into book 8, since the action starts right where it left off from the previous book, and there’s a lot of backstory. Penny is now stuck in Lloegyr, having closed off all the “thin places” between it and Britain in an attempt to protect it from her world. In the previous book her fondness for whiskey morphed from a pleasant diversion into alcoholism; now her friends are trying to stage an intervention. She’s fallen away from God, feeling herself unworthy. Romantically, she’s torn between a were-wolf and a dragon. And she’s been asked to go negotiate with the bees, who have fled her world and are now threatening the gryphons in the magical alternate world in which she now finds herself.
As with the other books, the action comes pretty thick and fast, so don’t think you’ll be bored. At the same time, this is not just an adventure book. Penny wrestles with her alcoholism, her desire to eat meat (she keeps trying to justify it, but struggles more and more to avoid sounding hypocritical to herself), and her faith. Like the other books in the series, this is a profoundly Christian book, although one that can be enjoyed and appreciated by non-Christians as well. Penny’s problems are those of a CoE vicar in modern society, but they’re also the problems of everyone who has ever struggled with faith in anything, including themselves.
Oh, but don’t think it’s all heavy stuff. As usual, the book is also full of Doctor Who and Star Wars references, so fans of those series will find plenty to appreciate as well. All in all, a very fun and readable fantasy adventure series that also touches upon more serious themes in a heartfelt and sensitive way.
Get the book on Amazon.