My rating: ★★★★☆
This is a story about the Taylor family: Albert, Mabel and their newborn daughter. Mabel is frightened that the child won’t eat and has been losing weight since birth. Albert, a beekeeper, devises a novel solution to the problem.
Another odd short story from Roald Dahl!
This story is available online. Please click here to read the story before continuing – it will take about 20 minutes. Spoilers are included below. As I have said before, it is difficult to discuss such short stories without giving away the plot. Here are my pros and cons:
- I am continually amazed by Dahl’s ability to take a simple topic and make it creepy or weird.
- The beekeeping information was interesting and seemingly factual. Interestingly, a study conducted by R. Krell at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations showed that Royal Jelly benefited underfed children by helping them to gain weight, add hemoglobin and add red blood cells. There are many other benefits associated with human consumption of royal jelly; however, turning into a bee is not one of them. Ha!
- I found the reaction of the mom in the story to be intriguing – she was frantic about her baby not eating and then she became frantic about how much her baby was eating. Interesting pendulum swing.
- When the baby started getting ravenous it really creeped me out a little. I can’t even put my finger on why exactly. It was as if the baby was becoming a weird, uncontrollable “thing” that I started to fear.
- I loved that it was revealed that Albert was also taking royal jelly for its fertility benefits. And I found it oddly disturbing that Mabel didn’t notice how bee-like Albert was becoming until she knew he had been taking the royal jelly himself.
- Another fantastic ending – subtle, but clear and effective.
- While I enjoyed the beekeeping information and the specifics about royal jelly, I felt like that part of the story was a little long. This story didn’t feel as concise as the other two stories I have previously reviewed.
You can actually buy Royal Jelly supplements online (Amazon commission link) – not endorsing, just noting the existence. If you are allergic to bees or honey you must consult a doctor before taking royal jelly supplements. You should probably consult a doctor before trying any supplements to make sure there are no issues with your personal health situation – and don’t ever give it to a baby without absolute medical supervision. Royal Jelly will not turn anyone into a bee!
I really enjoyed this short story – odd topic, odd ending, well written – perfectly Dahl. Roald Dahl is fast becoming a favorite of mine with regard to short stories. They are all available online and I will be reading more. What is your favorite Dahl short story? Which one should I read next?
(The Royal Jelly supplement link above is a commission link. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks!)