The Murmur of Bees

Written by Simon Bruni (trans.) Sofía Segovia
Review by Jo Ann Butler

From his birth in 1910, it is clear there is something unusual about Simonopio Morales. It isn’t just the birth defect which disfigures the infant’s face and robs him of speech – when old Nana Reja finds the little boy abandoned under a bridge in Linares, Mexico, Simonopio is blanketed by bees. Though some mutter that the child was disfigured by the devil’s kiss (or the devil himself) the Morales Cortéz family, a prosperous farming clan, adopts Simonopio to raise as their own.

Over the ensuing years, the family witnesses marvelous events. Some, like the Spanish Flu of 1917, the 1910 Revolution’s land seizures, or a tenant’s jealousy, prove more tangible threats than demonic possession. Through it all, Simonopio repays the Morales’ kindness many times over: tending the ancient woman who rescued him or retrieving young Francisco Morales when he strays. It’s clear that there is far more to Simonopio than the swarm of bees which follows him everywhere – the Morales have a protector with near-supernatural abilities.

The Murmur of Bees, an award-winning novel by Mexican author Sofia Segovia, intrigues from the start. Ms. Segovia combines a subtly magical atmosphere and unique, yet believable characters with kinetic narration to craft a story with broad appeal. I particularly loved Ms. Segovia’s vivid depiction of northeastern Mexico, letting this reader explore the area’s pastoral farms and rocky hillsides with Simonopio and his murmuring bees. You will enjoy The Murmur of Bees too!