I don't want to live an ordinary life. I'm not good at it. ...
Adventures are tough but that's the point of them isn't it? - Virginia
It is absolutely essential to read the first installment Beetle Boy before you pick up Beetle Queen. I read Beetle Boy in April but I did need to really concentrate and draw on my memory as I read this second book. There is very little opportunity to recap the past because MG Leonard dives straight into the action.
Lucretia Cutter has a shocking plan to conquer the earth. She will make her big announcement at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. The attention of the crowd will be caught by two very special gowns she has made for two nominee actresses. When you read about them, though, you will quite rightly be very suspicious. These are not just glamorous dresses :
"I call my creation Snow White because it is made from the purest white substance to be found in the natural world. ... it's made of beetles ... The extreme whiteness comes from a thin layer of reflective photonic solid on its scales."
Have you guessed about these beetles? The actress leaves having agreed to tell no one about the gown she will be given on the day of the awards. Read on :
"The dress, hanging in the open trunk, shimmered and vibrated like it was coming apart, suddenly exploding into a whirlwind of movement as thousands of specially bred Cyphochilus beetles flew out of their fastenings and swarmed around Lucretia ... "
The dress deception is only the beginning. Lucretia has huge plans using the beetles she now controls. Our heroes Darkus, Virginia, Bertolt and Uncle Max know Lucretia is up to no good. They discover she is planning to burn down beetle mountain and they race to save their friends but sadly the friends are too late. They arrive and witness the death of thousands of beetles. These scenes will leave you as heart-broken as Darkus but this also makes them all the more determined to stop this evil 'woman'.
In this second book you will also discover more about Novak and again some of this is quite awful. When you pick up this book read pages 165-168.
You can read the first chapter here or listen to the author reading here. Here is a very detailed review. Playing by the Book have some good ideas to take this book even further.
One of the things I loved about Beetle Boy was the edge of the pages which were covered with beetles. I now read the first 2000 copies of Beetle Queen had yellow ladybirds on the edge - wish my copy had this :