Friday, December 9, 2011

Julie's Review: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

Summary: It’s Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving—is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces’ decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop’s Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening’s shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.

Review: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows is a hoot. I love Flavia. At times I have to remind myself that she's only 11. She's wise beyond her years, smart and curious. That last part often gets her in big time trouble. This is the 4th book in the adventures of Flavia de Luce and while I don't think you need to read all the books to get the gist of this story, but the book does reference previous "cases". Flavia thinks of herself as an amateur sleuth and I believe the Inspector thinks of her as a nuisance and a help. Most of all Flavia is lonely, so these incidents she gets wrapped up in take her mind off of that fact. Her dad is distant, her sisters are mean/cruel to her and her mother is long dead. Her closest friend is her dad's old war buddy, Dogger.

The mystery itself isn't too complex but that's not why you read these books. You read these books because of Flavia and her adventures. I liked this book a lot because of the relationship that Flavia started to develop with Phyillis Wyvern. Of course, Flavia grabbed onto the affection because she so needs a mother's attention. I loved how Flavia still believes in Father Christmas even if her sister's try to tell her differently. I love how she knows enough chemistry at 11 years old to make fireworks!! I'm way older and don't have that knowledge. :)

This book is chopped full of quotes that are hilarious, that I found myself cracking up out loud several times. Flavia has a way with words as well as chemicals.

Alan Bradley definitely has a gem of a series here and I can't wait until he reveals more to us readers about Dogger. He's definitely a mystery that not even Flavia has cracked yet.

There are parts of this that remind me of an Agatha Christie mystery: everyone in one location, a few different people with motive, the setting. (It's even referenced in the book).

My pile of reads in 2012 is quite large but I might have to find a place for the other books in the series that I missed. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag and A Red Herring Without Mustard.

I would even suggest this series for an 11 year old who is starting to enjoy mysteries.

Final Take: 3.75/5



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