The Honeys by Ryan La Sala
Published: August 16th 2022 by Scholastic Press
Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Genre: Young Adult // LGBT, Mystery, Horror
Quick Thoughts: A golden, out-of-the-ordinary and terrifyingly warped novel that everyone will be buzzing about.
About The Book:
From Ryan La Sala, the wildly popular author of Reverie, comes a twisted and tantalizing horror novel set amidst the bucolic splendor of a secluded summer retreat.
Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline’s radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who’d grown tragically distant.
Mars’s genderfluidity means he’s often excluded from the traditions — and expectations — of his politically-connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.
What Mars finds is a bucolic fairytale not meant for him. Folksy charm and sun-drenched festivities camouflage old-fashioned gender roles and a toxic preparatory rigor. Mars seeks out his sister’s old friends: a group of girls dubbed the Honeys, named for the beehives they maintain behind their cabin. They are beautiful and terrifying — and Mars is certain they’re connected to Caroline’s death.
But the longer he stays at Aspen, the more the sweet mountain breezes give way to hints of decay. Mars’s memories begin to falter, bleached beneath the relentless summer sun. Something is hunting him in broad daylight, toying with his mind. If Mars can’t find it soon, it will eat him alive.
I’ve never read any of Ryan’s previous novels, so I picked up The Honeys from Scholastic (thank you besties!) with a blank slate, not knowing what to expect, though I was betting it would be unputdownable.
Mars and his twin sister, Caroline, used to be close. But in recent times, they’ve grown apart in a multitude of ways, namely because of Caroline’s affiliation with Aspen, a prestigious Summer Academy that he also used to attend before he left because of push back/exclusion due to him being genderfluid and the other kids there being unkind (and non-inclusivity in general.) But one night, Mars awakens at home to Caroline suddenly by his bedside—but it’s far from the sister he was once close with. In fact, she’s out for blood. And then, she’s gone, dying in the most tragic way right in front of him.
Fearing something is off with the story of her death—and situation as a whole—Mars decides to hold an investigation of his own. He tells his parents he’s going back to Aspen, meanwhile scheming for answers to Caroline’s demise. He finds her old friends, a group of girls that everyone calls The Honeys, namely because their cabin is beside the beekeeping hives at Aspen. Mars knows he has to get close to her old friends and dig until he can’t anymore to find the truth, but the longer he stays in Aspen among the atmospheric, yet unabating treeline, he finds himself—and his memories—melting into the mystery of Aspen. But when the reality hits him of what’s really going on, and what happened to Caroline, the answer defies logic—and beckons him to succumb to the same danger.
Overall, The Honeys held my attention in a way no book ever has. It was twisty and aesthetically moody—dark academia style—and I felt myself becoming trapped in it’s claws the longer I read. I absolutely adored the writing style Ryan has, and the worldbuilding was *chef’s kiss* perfect. I honestly did not see the last ten chapters coming at all, which is really surprising because I always guess the outcome with thrillers—that’s what makes The Honeys so standout: it is purely second-to-none and especial. (I also LOVED the way Mars’s genderfluidity was written and how much he was willing to risk pushing his comfort zone in the name of Caroline’s sake.) This was truly a golden, out-of-the-ordinary and terrifyingly warped novel that everyone will be buzzing about. Five stars! (or Bees 😉🐝)
Ryan La Sala writes about surreal things happening to queer people. Ryan resides in New York City, but only physically. Escapist to the core, he spends most of his time in the astral planes and only takes up corporeal form for special occasions, like brunch and to watch anime (which is banned on the astral planes). Ryan is the author behind the riotously imaginative Reverie, and the brilliantly constructed Be Dazzled, and the highly anticipated The Honeys. He has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Tor.com, and one time Shangela from RuPaul’s Drag Race called him cute. Right in the middle of the road downtown! So. Pretty big deal all around, yes? His next book, The Honeys, will be publish with Scholastic on August 16, 2022.