ARC Review: Queen Bee – Amalie Howard

Queen Bee

Author: Amalie Howard

Genre: YA, Retelling

Published: April 4th, 2023 (Joy Revolution)


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Teen Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Lady Ela Dalvi knows the exact moment her life was forever changed – when her best friend, Poppy, betrayed her without qualm over a boy, the son of a duke. She was sent away in disgrace, her reputation ruined.

Nearly three years later, eighteen-year-old Ela is consumed with bitterness and a desire for…revenge. Her enemy is quickly joining the crème de la crème of high society while she withers away in the English countryside.

With an audacious plan to get even, Ela disguises herself as a mysterious heiress and infiltrates London’s elite. But when Ela reunites with the only boy she’s ever loved, she begins to question whether vengeance is still her greatest desire.

In this complicated game of real-life chess, Ela must choose her next move: Finally bring down the queen or capture the king’s heart?

My Thoughts

Three years ago, Lady Ela Dalvi was betrayed by her best friend Poppy who caused her reputation to be ruined, and was sent away in disgrace to a distant finishing school in the countryside. Now, three years later, Ela has plotted out her plan to get revenge and joins London society under a new name posing as a mysterious heiress. At first, everything seems to be going perfectly, but when she catches the attention of a handsome marquess who happens to be her childhood friend that abandoned her over the scandal, things get complicated very quickly. Will she see her plans through or throw away her shot at getting even for a chance of happiness?

💭 Initial Thoughts: I love a good retelling, so I was very interested in this one. Not only was it a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo (which is quite rare, I’ve only come across one before), but it was set in the regency era which is one of my absolute favourites to read about.

🌎 Plot, World building & Atmosphere: Plot wise, the premise of this book was unique and well thought out and it set up the revenge arc for Ela perfectly. The story alternated between the perspectives of Ela from three years ago and Lyra, her new identity, as she sets out on her quest for vengeance. It was interesting to see the two timelines unfold in parallel and I also loved that the cast of characters in general was so diverse.

On the downside, this barely felt like a regency novel at all. In a real regency setting, the daughter of an earl would have never been permitted to socialize with or befriend the daughter of the family solicitor, much less run about without a chaperone. The whole plot that Poppy orchestrated to ruin Ela also couldn’t have worked out that smoothly with no consequences. It also ignored so many points of etiquette and societal norms of the time. This story could have been moved to another setting entirely with little impact to the core plot. It also didn’t feel very believable that nobody recognized Ela – it was only three years since they last saw her and all she did was change the color and style of her hair.

I think overall, if you were to start looking at the finer details, this world building would not be plausible, but if you’re willing to gloss over it and focus on the story alone, this works.

✍🏻 Writing & Narration: The pacing was decent throughout and kept things moving. Queen Bee was a very easy read in general and not one that required a lot of focus, making it a good choice to pick up jf you’re looking for something that doesn’t take too long to read. The writing and narration were pretty good, however, the dialogues read more like modern rather than regency speech which definitely affected story immersion for me.

👥 Characters: Ela/Lyra was an interesting main character. Her transformation from the irritatingly timid and naive Ela to the strong, independent Lyra was fantastically done. Now if she had just stayed the course, it would have been a much better character arc, but instead, she basically melts at the first sight of the handsome marquess – even though he didn’t stand by her when she needed it.

Which brings me to the somewhat weak love interest. I felt that Ela deserved better than Keston, the marquess, because he never stood up for her when it counted and instead let himself be influenced by others around him. It also made no sense to me why he would allow Poppy to hang around him regardless because clearly he is aware of her nature. He was forgiven way too easily and the entire romance was less than compelling for me.

🎬 Ending: The ending felt a bit rushed compared to the rest of the book and things came together almost too conveniently, making it fall flat. In my opinion, the way the author chose to wrap up this book was sort of a letdown compared to how strong the plot had been until then.

Final Thoughts & Recommendation: Overall, this was an entertaining read with vibes of Mean Girls meets Bridgerton. Queen Bee was a fun take on The Count of Monte Cristo and if the premise appeals to you, I would definitely recommend it!

Queen Bee releases on April 4th, 2023.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
All quotes in this review were taken from an advance reader’s edition and may differ from the final version of the book.


16 thoughts on “ARC Review: Queen Bee – Amalie Howard

  1. Fadima Mooneira March 26, 2023 / 9:08 am

    What an awesome book to read. I love retelling stories too. I shall add this book to my TBR. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fransic verso March 26, 2023 / 10:19 am

    That’s awesome it’s entertaining and it’s something I have never read before. Thank you for the lovely review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lellalee March 26, 2023 / 12:43 pm

    I love the cover. This sounds like a pleasant read. I love a book I can get lost in without thinking about the finer details too much xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Drew Alexander Ross March 26, 2023 / 1:00 pm

    Has an exciting premise! I like your comparison of Mean Girls meets Bridgerton. Great post, Raji!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 24hr.YABookBlog March 26, 2023 / 3:43 pm

    can’t wait to read this one, I need more YA historical romances in my life!! & I completely get your thoughts on how the regency setting isn’t really there, someone like me (who has barely any knowledge on regency stuff probably wouldn’t notice these details 😅) Wonderful review Raji!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stephanie | The Espresso Edition March 27, 2023 / 10:13 am

    I’m not sure I’ve ever read a retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, so I’m definitely fascinated by this! Typically, I don’t pick up regency era books unless they’re also fantasy, but the plot for this one sounds really interesting. I may need to give it a read! I loved your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I'm All Booked Up YA March 28, 2023 / 9:19 am

    We’re so excited to read Queen Bee and the comparison to The Count of Monte Cristo has us intrigued. We’re so happy that you enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s