Jan 6, 2012

Book Review: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
About the plot: Amateur sleuth and budding chemist, Flavia de Luce, age 11, makes friends with famous actress Phyllis Wyvern, who arrives with cast and crew at Flavia's historic mansion home in the middle of winter to do scenes for a new film. The de Luce family are in financial straits and have "rented" out part of their huge ancestral home to the film company over the Christmas holidays.

Besides fending off the gibes and malicious teasing of her teenage sisters, Flavia watches the goings on of the film crew and actors staying in the mansion, and later on, does her own investigation of a murder that takes place in the house, during a blizzard that traps everyone indoors for days. Her one reliable friend is her father's old army friend, all-purpose handyman and helper, Dogger.

"No need to explain. Older sisters are much alike the world over: half a cup of love and half one of contempt."
I couldn't have put it better myself.
"My sister's the same," she said. "Six years older?"
I nodded.
"Mine, too. I see we have a great deal more in common than a taste for horrific murder, Flavia de Luce." (ch. 3)

Comments: Flavia is always a delightful if very young but astute protagonist in this mystery series. This is the 4th book and Flavia seems to have grown up quite a bit, doing investigations and research and making observations that are quite advanced for her age. At other times she is very much a child, however, and still is not sure if Santa Claus exists or not. Her experiment to "trap" Santa as he climbs down the chimney on Christmas Eve ties in nicely with the mystery plot and provides a setting for good suspense in the investigation.

You will like this recent Flavia de Luce mystery if you suspend disbelief for a while and enjoy the antics and crime solving skills of a precocious 11-year-old.

Title: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan  Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press, hardcover
Publication: November 1, 2011
Genre: mystery; Source: library
Rating: 4/5

© Harvee Lau of Book Dilettante. Please do not reprint without permission


Bellezza said...

I still need to read the Bottom of The Pie one! Flavia seems quite precocious, and readers seem to like her...I just can't say, myself.

By the way, another writer I'm looking forward to reading is Donna Leon. I've picked up one of her mysteries for my Venice in February challenge, and I see she has 'thousands' on the library shelf. Do you like her work?

Zibilee said...

I have heard pretty good things about these books, and Flavia in particular. I think it's interesting to center this genre of book around such a young protagonist, and am really interested in getting tot he first book and seeing what I think about it. Great review today! You've really piqued my interest when it comes to this series!

Marce said...

Flavia is delightful so I look forward to reading this one, will be my Christmas read this year, didn't get to it last year.

Darlene said...

I'm glad to hear you've liked this series so much. I have all the books just need some time to read them. I've heard nothing but good things about Flavia!

Jennifer | Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I reviews this one today as well. This was my first in the series, and I really enjoyed it.

Mystica said...

Just read this and reviewed it. I liked it very much though I do agree with disbelief and Flavia!

TheBookGirl said...

This series is very popular in the bookshop, with all kinds of mystery readers -- young, old, female and male alike. That's sort of surprising to me, given that the "detective" is an 11 year old girl :)

Lisa said...

I still haven't started this series and now that there are three books, I don't know if I will because I'll feel like if I'm in for one, I'm in for all three! But they sound so good that I may yet be tempted!

Jenny Girl said...

Haven't started this series yet, and have read mixed reviews. Great review and when I do tackle Flavia, I'll remember to keep an open mind. Thanks Harvee

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