Amal El-Mohtar's The Honey Month is a collection of poetry, vignettes, and tasting notes. Each day of the month celebrates a different type and source of honey: blueberry honey, raw manuka honey, and twenty-nine other samples are the inspiration for verse and prose dripping with description.
Framed as separate chapters, the book is rich in the same way that truffles are intense. Due to this, it is best consumed one chapter at a time, rather than all at once. The one word that kept coming to mind as I worked my way through it was lush: and indeed, El-Mohtar's strength seems to be in the descriptive side of things. Short stories, such as "Hungarian Forest Honey", tend towards an ambiance of folk lore and fairytale: villanelles shine alongside free verse.
With this kind of intensity, it's not a surprise that others would draw on the book for inspiration. This work is notable for being a link in a chain of works: the foreword refers to Catherynne Valente's Palimpsest and the bees kept by the protagonist November. I first became aware of The Honey Month through the wire-wrapped pieces of Elise Matthesen, who wrapped thirty-one amber pendants in broad sweeps of sterling silver to match the chapters of the collection.
The book reaches back, as well as forwards, to other artists. Fiona Apple's Slow Like Honey is referenced, and there's a touch of Neil Gaiman in a few of the stories. This is a book with a sense of place, well-loved, and well worth a read.