The Colonel and the Bee
The Colonel and the Bee centers on two characters who meet each other by chance at a show and decide to set out on an adventure that could change their lives or take it. Young Beatrix—who is later called Bee—is a circus acrobat who wants to escape her current life when she spies the Colonel in the audience of her show and then again when she is trying to escape. Being the gentleman that he is, the Colonel agrees to let Bee join him on his journey in a giant hot air balloon. Together, along with a cast of quirky and humorous individuals, the Colonel and the Bee find themselves on a journey around the world in search of a valuable artifact.
This is one of those reviews that I hate posting. I don’t have anything particularly bad to say about Canning’s work; it is a very well written story full of humor, adventure, and a unique steampunk creativity. I don’t often read books of this genre, so I was introduced to something new and, in some ways, I enjoyed it. But I have to be honest in that a lot of ways I didn’t enjoy it at all.
First let me reiterate this: Canning’s novel is a GOOD novel. The book is well written, and the story is one that’s easy to follow, full of humor, and has its fair share of creative wit. But there are a few things that took away from the book. The first is the Colonel himself. I don’t like him at all. His personality is so very ‘Hollywood’ that even though he is unique and eccentric, it feels like he is just another cookie cutter over-the-top character you tend to see in adventure novels. That being said, the entire book had this awkward quirky tone to it that I didn’t enjoy. Traveling in a giant hot air balloon—ok???? A married couple that barely knows each other despite being married for years—hmm… and Beatrix the escaped…ACROBAT…????
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with these characters, in fact, the cast is exactly what you would expect from a novel that boasts of being a mash up of Around the World in Eighty Days and The Wizard of Oz. That is the PERFECT description for this story. So then why didn’t I like it?
Because… I simply didn’t.
This might be unfair to Canning, but I realized, while reading this book, that there was nothing wrong with the story, nothing wrong with the characters (other than the Colonel), and nothing wrong with the writing. In the end, I guess I simply don’t like silly, Victorian adventure/steampunk novels. I was really interested in the book when Canning approached me for a review and I definitely went into it with the hopes of enjoyment, but I’m sad to say I’m simply not a fan of this genre.
I hope readers see this review and understand the point I’m trying to make. This is a great book in the right hands but I’m just not the reader for this. If reading about an escaped circus acrobat and a Colonel traveling the world in a giant hot air balloon in search of a precious artifact sounds like your cup of tea, then you might have just found your next addiction. While I didn’t enjoy the story very much, I must admit the writing is very good and fits the era quite perfectly. I have never enjoyed The Wizard of Oz, but it is undeniably a literary classic—similarly, I think it’s safe to say The Colonel and the Bee could be this generation’s next adventure to remember.