The Queen of the Night

Listen to a sample

What to expect

Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable, audiobook edition of The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee, read by Rachel Bavidge.

From a writer praised by Junot Díaz as ‘the fire, in my opinion, and the light’, a mesmerizing novel that follows one woman’s rise from circus rider to courtesan to world-renowned star

Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role. 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 still, one wants only to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all.

As Lilliet mines her memories for clues, she recalls her life as an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept up into the glitzy, gritty world of Second Empire Paris. In order to survive, she transformed herself from circus rider to courtesan, from empress’s maid to stage ingénue,all the while weaving a web of passion and intrigue. Will the truth secure Lillet’s fate – or destroy her with the secrets it reveals?

Fifteen years in the writing, The Queen of the Night is a literary tour de force that is also ferociously readable. A blazing tale of lust, ambition, betrayal and revenge, it will captivate readers right up to its final electrifying denouement.

‘Epic, gorgeous, haunting’ Hanya Yanagihara, Man Booker shortlisted author of A Little Life

Astonishing‘ Karen Russell, New York Times best-selling author of Swamplandia

Luminous‘ J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times best-selling author of Maine

GlitteringWall Street Journal


Lush and sweepingPublishers Weekly

Plotted like a fine embroideryNPR

Completely engrossingLibrary Journal, STARRED

Richly researched, ornately plottedKirkus, STARRED

Dramatic, audacious and extravagantChicago Review of Books

ALEXANDER CHEE won a Whiting Award for his first novel, Edinburgh, and is a recipient of the NEA Fellowship in Fiction and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Ledig House, and Civitella Ranieri. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Tin House, Slate, and NPR, among others, and he is a Contributing Editor at The New Republic. He lives in New York City.

Critics Review

  • One doesn’t so much read The Queen of the Night as one is bewitched by it

    Hanya Yanagihara, author of the Man Booker shortlisted 'A Little Life'
  • A celebration . . . of creativity, ingenuity, endurance, mastery and grace

    New York Times
  • An epic novel, brilliantly extravagant

  • Lush and sweeping . . . A moving meditation on the transformative power of fate, art, time, and sheer survival

    Publishers Weekly
  • Sprawling, soaring, bawdy and plotted like a fine embroidery

    National Public Radio
  • It just sounds terrific. It sounds like opera

    New Yorker

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