From the moment I started reading M.G. Leonard’s debut, Beetle Boy, I fell in love with her storytelling, her characters and her wonderful beetles. I gobbled up Beetle Boy and even a year after reading it I find myself thinking about Darkus and his friends. I have been eagerly anticipating the sequel, Beetle Queen, for ages because I need to return to that story and find out what is happening. I couldn’t wait until it is released in New Zealand (and neither could several of my favourite readers at my school) so I bought a copy from the UK. Beetle Queen is even better than I was hoping it was going to be.
Cruel beetle fashionista, Lucretia Cutter, is at large with her yellow ladybird spies.
When Darkus, Virginia and Bertolt discover further evidence of her evil, they’re determined to stop her. But the three friends are in trouble. Darkus’ dad has forbidden them to investigate any further – and disgusting crooks Humphrey and Pickering are out of prison. Hope rests on Novak, Lucretia’s daughter and a Hollywood actress, but the beetle diva is always one scuttle ahead …
Beetle Queen is a superb sequel and I would say it’s the best second book in a trilogy that I have ever read. M.G. Leonard transports you straight back in to the story, almost exactly where the previous book ended. All the things that I loved about Beetle Boy are in Beetle Queen – the wonderful characters that you either love or love to hate, the brilliant storytelling which feels quite magical, the sense of adventure, and all the beetles. The sense of joy that Darkus experienced after rescuing his dad and bringing him home doesn’t last long before he loses him again. We saw the determination of Darkus, Bertolt and Virginia in the first book so we know that they will do anything to stop Lucretia Cutter’s plans and bring Darkus’ dad home again.
The thing I love the most about Beetle Queen is M.G. Leonard’s characters. Darkus, Bertolt and Virginia are clever, determined and caring. They would do anything to protect their beetle friends and they certainly have plenty of challenges that they have to face in Beetle Queen. Humphrey and Pickering, the bumbling (and quite peculiar) cousins are back again and trying to get what is owed to them by Lucretia Cutter. They make me laugh every time they appear in the story because they are just so hopeless and you know things aren’t ever going to go well for them. Lucretia Cutter is delightfully sinister and we learn more about her wicked plans. I love Baxter, Newton, Marvin and Hepburn, the beetle side-kicks who all play important roles in Darkus’ plans to stop Lucretia Cutter. They manage to express so much with just a flutter of elytra or twitch of antennae. The stand-out character in Beetle Queen though, for me, has to be Darkus’ Uncle Max. He kept on surprising me in this book, because he often reacted quite differently to what I was expecting. He is very supportive of Darkus and always backs him up.
I am so excited to read the finale, Battle of the Beetles, but I’ll have to wait until next year to find out how it all ends. In the mean time I urge everyone to read Beetle Boy and Beetle Queen because you will fall in love with Darkus and his Coleopteran friends. They are the perfect books to read aloud to a Year 5 or 6 class or snuggled up in bed with your children at night.