Beetle Queen by M.G. Leonard

I have been desperate to get my hands on this since finishing Beetle Boy, I needed to know what happened to Novak. When I saw Waterstones were releasing early, I was straight down to my local store to pick one up, and didn’t move from the minute I turned the first beautifully sprayed edged page until I’d devoured the last.

The story picks up just a few weeks after we last left Darkus, Bartolt, Virginia and their exceptional beetles. With Dad home and getting better every day, it’s time to show him how they rescued him from the clutches of Lucretia Cutter. But instead of being thrilled, Bartholomew Cuttle, Director of Science at the Natural History Museum, bans Darkus from having anything to do with the beetles, or his friends.

When Bartholomew disappears again, Darkus realises it’s down to him and his friends to put an end to whatever Lucretia is planning, even if it means disobeying his Dad. Uncle Max is there to help, and when they realise dastardly crooks, Humphrey and Pickering are out of jail, there is no time to lose. There is only one person left they can turn to, but can Novak help?

A darkly funny mix of mystery and adventure, with a smattering of well timed slapstick to ease the tension, this is a fabulously entertaining tale with a huge heart. I love that we see the children’s fear as much as their courage, and we’re taken on a journey through our emotions. I love that M.G. Leonard has created a childhood fictional villain even more sinister than The Child Snatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But most of all, I love that this isn’t the end of the story. The glossary at the back is brilliant for helping budding entomologists understand the scientific language too.

As for Novak, my worry is now pure fear. I’ll have to wait for The Battle Of The Beetles to find out what awaits her next…

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Great for fans of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket.

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