I admit it, I'm a McKinley fan so when this showed up on my starred Kirkus reviews, I thought YES! I must say I feel like I've read a lot of bee-related stories lately, and I'm not really sure why bees have become a popular plot device, but I think McKinley's choice of making her heroine a slightly crazy beekeeper works in this cozy fantasy world. As usual, McKinely drops the reader into the story abruptly, without a full understanding of what is going, much less the rules of the new universe the characters inhabit. What is clear from almost the beginning is that this is another beauty and the beast story, only in this case the beast is a walking, talking pillar of fire.
I thought it was delicious. The Blue Sword it isn't, but Chalice is head and shoulders above many other fantasy books I've read this year.