Title: “The Beekeeper’s Daughter”

Author: Jane Jordan

Publisher: Black Opal Books, 372 pages

The author of this book places it in the thriller genre, and says: “I aspired to transport my readers back to a vintage atmosphere with gothic tension.”

The first chapter of the book recounts an incident that does not seem to connect to the story until much later in the book and features a 16th century witch burning. Chapter 2 and on are set in the Victorian era.

The next 100 pages of the book reminded me of a teenage romance novel. Two children, Jevan Wenham, the blacksmith’s son, and the beekeeper’s daughter, Annabel, at first do not like each other at all but quickly become inseparable friends and join in carefree play jumping stones in the river Barle in enchanted, heavily wooded, northern Exmoore. As they grow, so does their romantic connection.

Annabel, is a strong and fearless child, teen and woman. She has loving parents but loses her mother early in life. She comforts herself with her bees, who seem charmed by her attention. Jevan, equally strong-willed, soon becomes integral to Annabel’s happiness.

Another child, the bully, Aidden Murray, breaks the spell of childhood innocence by encroaching upon their private wilderness. Without giving too much away, the confrontation that occurs between the three sets in motion the idea that, when pushed to the limits, each one of us is capable of good and evil.

The book moves forward and introduces a love triangle, Annabel, Jevan and the privileged Alex Saltonstall. Here is where the pace speeds up and dark forces are at play as Annabel’s witching powers, inherited from her biological parents, intensify and grow. Suddenly, we are in a world of murder, rape, an exiled woman locked in an insane asylum, a hidden diary, incest, torture, more murder and rape, a curse, the underworld, including a fight with a reincarnated ghost and a mammoth fire that destroys the sinister home of a powerful family leaving an ambiguous shadow of evil.

Carmen Rath-Wald was raised on the prairies of North Dakota. She lived in southern California for a few years but chose to return to North Dakota to marry and raise a family. Rath-Wald has been a Logan County NDSU Extension agent for more than 25 years.