Beetle Queen by M G Leonard

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Beetle Queen by M G Leonard

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Z J Cookson
Reviewed by Z J Cookson
Summary: An exciting story about a modern Cruella De Vil style-character (only with beetles rather than Dalmatians): fans of Beetle Boy won't be disappointed by this fabulous sequel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2017
Publisher: Chicken House
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1910002773

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A modern Cruella De Vil – only with beetles rather than Dalmatians – Lucretia Cutter has a plan: a plan that will dramatically (and theatrically) unleash her latest batch of genetically modified and highly intelligent beetles. The consequences will be devastating for mankind but few realise the danger. Luckily firm friends Darkus, Virginia and Bertolt have figured out that Lucretia Cutter is up to something and are determined to do whatever it takes to stop the evil beetle diva.

Author M G Leonard set herself a significant challenge when she started this book: her debut title – Beetle Boy received our top 5 star rating and went on to become an international best seller. Indeed, it's been sold in 37 countries to date.

Luckily Beetle Queen doesn't disappoint. There's an interesting and exciting plot with a big dose of uncertainty about whose side Darkus's dad (Batholomew Cuttle) is really on. There's also a moment of peril and pathos when Lucretia sends her henchmen to dispose of Darkus's Beetle Mountain. Warning: some readers will be wiping away a tear as they read these chapters.

As the name of the book – and the plot summary above – suggest, Darkus and his friends are, however, forced to play second fiddle to our villainous 'Beetle Queen'. And, I am so glad. Lucretia is a truly wonderful villain: she's a character that every young reader is going to love to hate. The sections of the book from her point of view are outstanding, written to intrigue but cleverly structured so as not to give too much away.

Lucretia is not the only strong adult character. As with Beetle Boy, I loved the fact that the three friends aren't alone in their task. Again, they are joined by Darkus's Uncle Max and, in a fun twist, by Bertolt's somewhat scatty and stage-struck mum. Children will really associate with the challenge poor Bertolt faces as he and his friends attempt to defeat Lucretia while simultaneously trying to cope with his mum's constant presence.

The only adult characters I didn't like were Darkus's former neighbours, Humphrey and Pickering. I assume we needed to stay connected to the pair of crooks because they'll be crucial in the final book in the trilogy but I'd have been happy to delete all of their scenes. This is, however, a very minor niggle about what is undoubtedly a clever and enjoyable story.

Our heroes are off to the amazon jungle for the climax of the series, and I'm already looking forward to the 'The Battle of the Beetles.' If you haven't read it already you should probably read Beetle Boy before you start Beetle Queen. Alternatively, if you enjoyed this, I'd recommend what promises to be another original and magical series from Chicken House Books – The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol.

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