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A dark, seductive and threatening debut novel, set on a remote honey farm teeming with secrets.

The bees are restless.
After a long drought, Cynthia’s isolated honey farm has suffered in the heat. Soil dries into sand; honeycomb stiffens into wax. But she has a plan: offer the farm as an artists’ colony with free board and ‘life experience’ in exchange for a summer of hard labour. For Silvia, a recent graduate and would-be poet, the chance to test her independence proves irresistible – as does Ibrahim, a passionate painter she meets there.

But the honey farm isn’t all it seems. The idyllic summer is soon plagued by ominous events: taps run red, scalps itch with lice, frogs swarm the pond. The constant drone of bees begins to build like thunder in the air.

One by one the other residents leave, until only Silvia and Ibrahim remain – perilously in love under Cynthia’s watchful eye. And as summer shifts into autumn, Silvia becomes increasingly paranoid that they are in danger. What are the shadowy secrets that Cynthia is hiding? And if Silvia and Ibrahim have overstayed their welcome, what happens when they want to leave?


Mysterious, suspenseful, and unnerving, The Honey Farm offers a thrilling narrative that examines the distorted realities and conflicting perceptions that often exist in the quietest places

Iain Reid, bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things

A seductive, menacing thriller overflowing with secrets

Sydney Morning Herald

Lye writes splendidly and with great feeling and sensuality about the natural world . . . a story that grows more sinister as the drought grips harder

Good Reading Magazine

Mysterious and unsettling

Sunday Life

A masterful debut

Courier Mail

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    April 16, 2018

    Michael Joseph

    336 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    April 16, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    336 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks


Listen. It starts with the bees.

All day long the low, throttling hum of movement, the moment of liftoff—the bass note that never goes away. Then, swelling from the sidelines as day falls, comes the digital tick of tobacco-brown crickets—percussion—chkchking like an automated sprinkler, chrpchrping like needy birds. In come the fiddling grasshoppers—strings—from the balcony of trees, birch, poplar, and pine, followed by the lazy, peripatetic buzz of a fly. The high whine of mosquitos—the fugue—soars above the rest.

You will not be able to hear the bees whispering, and you would not understand their secrets even if you could. What you will hear is a hungry, unearthly cringe: the rub of wings as they fly. A science—no, a magic—that you will never know. The sticky slurp of suction, nectar, thirst, sex. It is nothing at all like love.

Look. The gluey honey is cracking from the cloud-grey hive bubbling from the branch; it’s cracking too from the ceiling where the colony has swarmed.

Open mouth. Blood on the teeth.

It starts with the bees, and it’ll end this way too.

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