M.G.Leonard’s, Beetle Queen is the sequel to Beetle Boy. This is the second in the tri-series. The book is a thrill a minute, full of suspense and intrigue. If one compares it to Beetle Boy as readers are wont to, Beetle Queen despite the story moving across locations it takes a while for Beetle Queen to put its hook into you. Beetle Boy puts it in and fast. Beetle Queen, on the other hand, chooses to tease the reader, take a turn into unknown lanes, some of them are cul-de-sacs and just when you start to get a little twitchy with frustration, Leonard unleashes a climax of Hollywoodian measure, matching its setting Los Angeles where drama rules.
Before we dive into the book a quick video intro about the stars of the book, Beetles!
At the opening of the book, we find Darkus content in the company of his father (who has kidnapped), his uncle Max, friends Virginia and Bertolt and the many species of beetles, chief among them Baxter, the rhino beetle. Joy prevails, but Darkus’s father Batholomew is wary still and quite sure that the sinister Lucretia Cutter is up to great evil.
Lucretia is, however, getting two famous actresses to try on her latest designer dress. Diaphanous and shimmering, they enchant the actresses, but there is more than meets the eye.
Darkus is upset that his dad suspects his beetles because they belong to Lucretia but he too is troubled with thoughts of Lucretia.
At night, in his dreams, he heard the scratch of her clawed feet coming after him, chasing him into a dark nightmare of two-way mirrors and angry stag beetles.
“Nothing is the way I thought it was going to be,’he said, lifting Baxter off his shoulder and scratching the bandage that held the dressing over his bullet wound.
Not ones to sit quietly the children start digging for information and come across a person who drowned and worked for Lucretia. But they suspect this may not be true and so starts their fact-finding mission, which they start by meeting the missing employee’s mother.
The children also meet Professor Andrew Appleyard, a former colleague of Bartholomew and his wife –Darkus’s parents. Through him, they learn about entomophagy or the practice of eating insects for protein. The author gives us details about this practice, though while useful did not seem to add to the storyline.
The children have to contend with a fire, while Bartholomew leaves on a trip. The children and Uncle Max decide to follow Lucretia to L.A. to know more about her devious plans and put an end to them. Do they succeed or does Lucretia get away with murder and mayhem again?
The descriptions of places and costumes by the author are strong in Beetle Queen. It falls short though on emotion and rides high on action. Readers are given a ringside view to an action-filled adventure. At the end of it, we hanker for the third and final installment in which we hope Lucretia Cutter gets justice for all the pain and sorrow she has caused to everyone.
The Beetle series are great because they shine the light on beetles, who they are, what they eat, the different kinds of beetles, how they help make the world a better place – humans would be over-run by manure if it were not for beetles – and the strength of many. Each beetle has its specialty and skill which when they come together makes them formidable. They work like a well-oiled army with Bertolt, Virginia and Darkus’ beetles showing their special traits.
I’m curious to see if the beetles take on a character of their own and exercise free-will in the final battle set in the Amazon forest, no less. I’ll have to wait until Feb 2018 for that.
Beetle Queen plays its role as a strong trunk to an epic beginning and hopefully brilliant end. Battle of The Beetles releases in 2018.
You can buy Beetle Boy here
You can buy Beetle Queen here.