I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Am Half Sick of Shadows
by Alan Bradley

Christmas at Buckshaw is just what I wanted. Only Flavia de Luce would think of flooding an entire portrait gallery to create an indoor ice skating rink. The amateur chemist and detective is back for a holiday adventure. Her overly-logical brain has worked out a plot to “catch” Santa with a sticky chemical solution applied to the roof. She’s so clever it’s easy to forget that she’s still a little girl, wondering if Santa exists.

As the de Luce family’s finances dwindle, Flavia’s father decides to rent out their home, Buckshaw, to a movie studio as a filming location. An entire crew, including the director and aging movie stars arrive in the small English town and set things buzzing.

Instead of having Flavia flit about the town of Bishop’s Lacey, as she has in the other novels, the entire town heads to Buckshaw. The actors agree to perform a scene from Romeo & Juliet to raise money for the local parish and the villagers brave the snow and head to Flavia’s home for the show. A blizzard ensures that they won’t be leaving anytime soon and the novel takes on the feel of an Agatha Christie novel. When an unexpected murder occurs, all of the suspects are confined to one location. Throw in a few crabby sisters, some fireworks and an on-going battle of the wits with local Inspector Hewitt and it’s the perfect holiday treat.

I would say the pacing is very similar to the first three books. If you loved those, like I have, you’ll probably love this one as well. Many feel unsatisfied with the books thus far and I would say that this one isn’t a deviation from the previous ones. There are bits and pieces revealed about the main characters, but nothing huge. I would think that most of us know if we like a series or not by the fourth book, so go with your instincts.

Dogger has always been one of my favorite characters in the series. Even if he’s not in the spotlight, he’s always standing quietly in the background, loyally waiting to provide whatever is needed. This book sheds more light on why he is the way he is and I was so glad to get to know him a bit better.

The restricted setting really worked for me. I loved having all the characters in one place. I think it helped move things along quickly. The murder mystery is always a background for the bigger story of the de Luce family itself and setting the entire book in their home helped hone that focus.

It boils down to this, if you love Flavia and the whole crazy de Luce household, this is a must for the holiday season.

“Impertinent children ought to be given six coats of shellac and set up in public places as a warning to others.”

“There are those of us who create because all around us, things visible and invisible are crumbling.”

My reviews of the first three books in the series can be found here: one, two and three

This book is a review copy provided by LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I like Flavia a lot. Read the 1st 2 books in the series but need to catch up with the last 2.

Jeanne said...

I go back and forth about these books. Having them all in the ancestral mansion would eliminate a few of the things that have irritated me (Flavia's relationship with her bike). And yes, Dogger is one of the most interesting characters.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I haven't started this series yet, but have heard that it isn't so much about the mystery but about Flavia. I love quirky loveable characters. I just need to find the right time and mood!

Jenners said...

I do enjoy Flavia and thought this was a good addition to the series. Not sure I like that second cover though!!!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Diane - I've learned that I like her better in small doses. I don't like reading her books back-to-back.

Jeanne - I would not recommend this one for you. It's really not that different from the others.

Sandy - I think you'd like these and the audios are really good. I read this one in print, but the first 3 on audio.

Jenners - I don't like the second cover at all! All of the other colors, the green, yellow, purple and now this red one, are so beautifully done!

Kristi said...

I love Flavia, but I haven't gotten past the first book (too many other books to read). How fun that this one is set at Christmas. Perfect timing. Maybe I'll time it so that I get to this one at Christmas time next year.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Kristi - I always have a hard time fitting books from a series into my reading. There's so many other new ones out there!

BookQuoter said...

If I didn't read you I wouldn't know about this new book. Thanks.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

BookQuoter - I love finding out about new books frmo other bloggers!