Not as good as my favorite McKinley works, but way better than Sunshine
. Too much exposition, not enough character interaction. But the slow, meditative pace and small focus as a microcosm of larger interactions were exactly what I needed at the time, as long as I ignored the disturbing subtext about immigration and xenophobia, and the slow, subtle (perhaps too slow and too subtle) love story and story of personal growth were deeply consoling at a time when I needed consolation.
It's another "Beauty and the Beast" variant, perhaps not consciously; the bees -- not creatures I am usually very warm towards -- substituted surprisingly well for McKinley's usual dogs.