The Queen of the Night is the kind of book that takes you along on a journey packed with misplaced trust, deception, and love, all set to the background of Paris. Alexander Chee salutes to the music and literature of the 19th century. The rags-to-riches plot is an intentionally improbable picaresque featuring all the glorious elements of great operas of the era: love at first sight, disguise, intrigue, grief, betrayal, secrets, scheming aristocrats, a besotted tenor, dramatic escapes, fabulous costumes, murder— the follies of humans at the mercy of Fate.
Liliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every honour except an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, and one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all. The story involves a female lead who consistently takes charge of her situation despite the throes of fate as she moves closer to the truth behind the opera and the role of a lifetime that would make or break her. The Queen of the Night is a gaudy, visual read, with a deeply troubled set of characters, and a brilliant transition between events occurring at breakneck speed parallel to the slow growth and waning of emotions. Alexander Chee’s attempt at fiction set in the France of days bygone is excellently executed and makes for a truly gripping read. Accompanied by a synergy of heart breaking moment’s makes this book one of our top recommendations.