Beetle Queen by M. G. Leonard has a quirky antagonist that reminds us of Roald Dahl’s best works

Beetle Queen by M. G. Leonard has a quirky antagonist that reminds us of Roald Dahl’s best works

Lucretia Cutter wants to destroy Earth’s food supply with genetically-modified beetles, and it’s up to insect lover Darkus to stop her

Beetle Queen
By M. G. Leonard 
Published by Chicken House 
ISBN 978 1 910002 77 3 

All hail, Her Majesty the Beetle Queen! Did you know that beetles are the most successful and evolutionary sophisticated creatures on Earth? There are more species of beetle than we can count. They can exist and thrive in the most dreadful of habitats, in water and on land, and they outnumber humans thousands of times over. 

If beetles organised themselves and turned against mankind, we would not stand a chance. But what beetles lack is a leader. And that is a role that Lucretia Cutter intends to fill. Ms Cutter is evil personified. She makes Cruella de Vil look like a Disney Princess. 

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Lucretia – diva, fashionista and multi-millionaire – already has wealth and knowledge, and now she seeks world power. And she plans to achieve this by creating an army of genetically-modified beetles capable of destroying Earth’s food supplies. What we need is a teenage hero who will stop her in her nefarious tracks. Enter Darkus Cuttle, the Beetle Boy. 

M. G. Leonard introduced Darkus and his friends Bertolt and Virginia in the darkly funny, Roald Dahl-esque adventure Beetle Boy a couple of years ago. Darkus is an insect lover with a beetle called Baxter as a pet. When Lucretia, a fashion designer with a penchant for beetle jewellery, crosses Darkus’ path, she had to be stopped from turning his beloved creatures into fashion accessories. 

In this twisted sequel, Darkus and his crew discover her evil plan to unleash her army of beetles at the annual Film Awards ceremony in Hollywood when the whole world will be watching. They are determined to stop her.

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This time, the human race is in danger, and it’s all systems go.  Maintaing the standard and appeal in the sequel to a book that became an international best seller in more than 30 countries could well have been very difficult to pull off. Luckily Beetle Queen is well up to that challenge.

Leonard seems to love the insects as much as Darkus, and has done her research on them. This well-researched beetle information is combined with an epic, fast-moving plot, a large dose of suspense, and a really wonderful villain.

The book’s central protagonists do play second fiddle to the fabulous Beetle Queen, but that’s no detriment in a story like this. Lucretia is a character that readers will love to hate: she hasn’t got a single redeeming feature, which is exactly how classic villains should be. 

Beetle Queen is a captivating tale told with all antennae twitching. Roll on the last book in this trilogy, The Battle of the Beetles. It will be epic! 

John Millen can be contacted on 

Edited by Nicole Moraleda

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
The fabulously evil Lucretia Cutter returns as the Queen of beetles


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