‘Beetle Boy’ is a wonderfully, stunning debut from M.G Leonard which will captivate your imagination and delight you with its weird and wonderful characters. A story of friendship, resilience and beetles, it is full of drama, excitement and action which will have you gripped throughout. When Dr.Bartholomew Cuttle mysteriously disappears one day from inside a sealed vault in the National History Museum leaving his son Darkus behind, it sparks a bizarre turn of events. Nobody can explain how or why it could have possibly happened and Darkus is entrusted to the care of his archaeologist Uncle. Just when he thinks life can’t get any stranger a giant beetle drops out of the trouser leg of his revolting new neighbour. Baxter (named after the soup) seems to be trying to communicate with him but how can a beetle understand what he says? And does the sudden arrival of a strange woman Lucretia Cutter with a peculiar taste in jewellery have some significance, are they in fact inextricably linked?
For me one of the highlights of this story is the fantastic cast of characters that M.G. Leonard assembles. Darkus forms an early alliance with the magnificent Virginia who has “the build of a featherweight boxer and skin the colour of cinnamon sticks,” and the geeky Bertolt who is “pale as chalk, with a neat body and…springy hair and enormous glasses”. This tight band of friends prove to be a real match for the villians of the piece who are deliciously grotesque. Uncle Max’s vile neighbours the bumbling Pickering and Humphrey live in squalor and spend their lives tormenting each other in a desperate attempt to outwit the other. Whilst Lucretia Cutter is reminiscent of Cruella De Vil but she is so sinister and loathsome that she makes Cruella seem warm and friendly.
M.G Leonard crafts an adventurous tale which children will just want to dive into. With secret dens, magical beetles, mysteries to solve and dark humour they will be totally entranced by Darkus and Baxter. The wonderfully rich descriptive language matched with Júlia Sardà exquisite illustrations creates the most vivid of reads. I loved the incredible attention to detail, it feels like a real labour of love you can feel the energy and passion come shining through. It’s amazing that we are able as readers to make a genuine connection with the beetles and become filled with awe at their capabilities. The ending of the book is exhilarating and thrilling and I really didn’t want it to finish. Thankfully ‘Beetle Boy’ is the first book in a trilogy and we have ‘Beetle Queen’ to look forward to in May 2017.