Queen of the Night
Alexander Chee

Book cover image

Narrated By: Rachel Bavidge

Duration: 17 hours and 34 minutes

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

'Glittering' Wall Street Journal

'Epic' Vogue

'Lush and sweeping' Publishers Weekly

'Plotted like a fine embroidery' NPR

'Completely engrossing' Library Journal, STARRED

'Richly researched, ornately plotted' Kirkus, STARRED

'Dramatic, audacious and extravagant' Chicago 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.


Historical fiction, Opera, Historical fantasy, Fiction: general & literary, Fantasy romance, Historical romance, Sagas & epics, Romance

Listen to a sample

Readers [will be] absorbed until the final aria, waiting to see whom fate will curse and whom it will avenge


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

Publishers Weekly

A spellbinding story of intrigue and self-reinvention


A celebration . . . of creativity, ingenuity, endurance, mastery and grace

New York Times

Richly researched and ornately plotted

Kirkus, STARRED 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'

Utterly engrossing. You won't want to miss this


A wild opera of a novel and the perfect summer read: swift, smart, immersive and gorgeous


It just sounds terrific. It sounds like opera

New Yorker

A night at an opera you'll wish never-ending

Helen Oyeyemi, author of 'Boy, Snow, Bird' and 'Mr. Fox'

An epic novel, brilliantly extravagant


An astonishing universe into which its lucky readers can dissolve completely

Karen Russell, New York Times best-selling author of 'Swamplandia' and 'Vampires in the Lemon Grove'

Sprawling, soaring, bawdy and plotted like a fine embroidery