Title/Author/Pg: The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee, 561p
Date Published: February 2, 2016
Date Read: June 20, 2017
Genre: Historical fiction
I’m sorry for the brief lapse in posts! I’ve been traveling this week, and I had to deal with getting settled, jet lag, etc. But I have this review and another few coming soon, and hopefully some other posts in between, so don’t worry! My weekly update will be pushed to Monday. I’d like to highlight a few bookstores while I am traveling, but we’ll see if I get around to that (I should!! I have no excuse…).
Anyways, today I have a review for The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. This novel was published last year, and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I first heard of it. I didn’t really know much about what the novel is about, but I had heard it was mysterious and historical, so I was immediately drawn in. The Queen of the Night is about an woman (who I’ll refer to as Lilliet), who after being orphaned in Midwest America, travels from New York to Paris to reunite with her distant family. However, instead of visiting her family, she instead learns to make her way in Europe, and attempts to find success as an opera singer. She is set apart by her rare and range-defying soprano, which leads her to great highs and lows.
This story is one of adventure, mystery, love and decadence, which are some of my top-three book descriptors! Chee’s writing style embodies these words, as his lyrical sentences flow together to perfectly describe the world Lilliet is living in. Castles, elegant balls, and the streets of Paris easily come to life as you read along, sending you deeper and deeper into Lilliet’s world. Lilliet herself is everything I want in a main character–slightly mysterious, independent, resourceful and strong. Her intuition plays a big role in the plot, helping guide her throughout the story, and she is very thoughtful and retrospective, which helps to add some depth to the story.
However, the beauty of the writing could not hide some small flaws (which I ignored to give this book 5/5). I found the story to be confusing at times, especially when Chee flipped between time periods without giving specific demarkations as to when we left one period in time and entered another. This led to some slight confusions and page-flipping to figure out what part of the story fits with what, since Chee does switch back and forth quite often.
The ending, while good, wasn’t GREAT, and I felt it was a bit of a letdown. I wonder if stopping the story slightly earlier would have added more mystery to the ending, giving the reader a little more to think about. Even so, I must admit that the ending, which is not overwrought with emotion, is fitting with Lilliet, who hovers between passion and nonchalance throughout the novel.
Overall, I really enjoyed the setting and characterization of this story, and the intricate plotting left me excited to read each new page and discover what came next in Lilliet’s story. If you are at all interested in historical fiction, or the opera, then I highly recommend this book! Especially if you can find it in it’s beautiful paperback version.