The glorious start to a middle-grade trilogy about a brilliant boy, his loyal friends, and some amazingly intelligent beetles that brings together adventure, humor, and real science!
Darkus Cuttle’s dad mysteriously goes missing from his job as Director of Science at the Natural History Museum. Vanished without a trace! From a locked room! So Darkus moves in with his eccentric Uncle Max and next door to Humphrey and Pickering, two lunatic cousins with an enormous beetle infestation. Darkus soon discovers that the beetles are anything but ordinary. They’re an amazing, intelligent super species and they’re in danger of being exterminated. It’s up to Darkus and his friends to save the beetles. But they’re up against an even more terrifying villain–the mad scientist of fashion, haute couture villainess Lucretia Cutter. Lucretia has an alarming interest in insects and dastardly plans for the bugs. She won’t let anyone or anything stop her, including Darkus’s dad, who she has locked up in her dungeons! The beetles and kids join forces to rescue Mr. Cuttle and thwart Lucretia.
This book made me love beetles. I’m talking picking-them-up-and-talking-to-them kind of love. But this book is SO MUCH MORE than that. There is a letter from Chicken House in the front of the book that compares Beetle Boy to Roald Dahl. Now, I’m going to admit it–I was a little sceptical about that comparison. After reading Beetle Boy, I can say that the comparison is entirely justified.
This book is chockfull of quirky wonder. Darkus, our main character, is smart, determined and SO kind (BAXTER IS EQUALLY LOVELY!), and I absolutely love his two new friends, Bertolt and Virginia, and Uncle Max. I have to say though, the stand out (in a bad way) characters in Beetle Boy HAVE to be the utterly repulsive next door neighbours, Humphrey and Pickering, who are the most disgustingly delightful henchman. Our main villain, the fabulously named Lucretia, is terrifying. ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING. I was sometimes nervous turning the page because of whatever evil plan she’d dreamed up.
The plot is beautifully developed, I absolutely loved the mystery element, and the build up to the conclusion was nerve-wracking and action packed. The writing is equally gorgeous–there are some seriously quotable sentences.
I am SO excited that there is going to be more Beetle Boy books. This book absolutely blew me away–I read it in one sitting and didn’t want it to end. If you’re looking for a BRILLIANT UK MG book, read this book ASAP.