I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

21 June, 2012

Although it is pleasant enough to think about poison in any season, there is something special about Christmas, and I found myself grinning.

In Flavia de Luce, Alan Bradley has created an inquisitive little sleuth with a love of chemistry rivalling that of Sherlock Holmes. It’s always such a pleasure to read about her antics.

In the fourth book in the series, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, it is almost Christmas and Flavia is busy plotting how to trap Santa Claus to discover his existance once and for all. However, Flavia’s father, Havilland has let a part of Buckshaw, their ancestral home, to a cinema crew for lucre to pay the taxman and as Buckshaw is turned into a film set, the stage is set for murder. For Phyllis Wyvern, the grand-dame of British film is found dead in her room by Flavia after a dramatic charity performance of Romeo and Juliet for the parish church, St. Tancred’s. As the snow has been piling up, all the guests have had to remain at Buckshaw and are suspects. Flavia is determined to find out whodunnit before Inspector Hewitt and goes about her investigations undercover. Will she unravel the mystery? And can she keep herself out of trouble? And can she trap Father Christmas?

Once again it’s a cosy country house mystery with the added bonus of seeing Flavia’s interactions with her father, still grief-stricken after his wife Harriet’s demise in Tibet, her two sisters Feely and Daffy who seem to be always finding ways of hurting her and of course, Dogger, their faithful retainer still racked by memories of the war but who is more than what he seems.

I love this series with Bradley’s signature playful prose and can’t wait to read the next book, Speaking from Among the Bones, which is due out next year.

And apparently the series has been optioned for TV by none other than Sam Mendes’ production company. YAY.

A big thank you to Orion Books for kindly sending me a copy of this book to review.

Other titles in the series:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag
A Red Herring without Mustard

12 Responses to “I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley”

  1. Carl V. Says:

    I’m behind. I haven’t read this one yet despite buying it in November when it came out. I missed that window of being able to read it during the appropriate holiday season. I have ideas of waiting but every so often I get the urge to revisit Flavia, so it might not wait.

    This series is wonderful. I’m so glad it is one I picked up right when it first came out, drawn by the cover image. It is a thrill each time a new book comes out.

  2. That’s interesting that it may be filmed/TVed – I expect it would be quite gorgeous to look at if done properly. A lot of vintage charm!

  3. I enjoyed this Flavia installment, too. I found this to be much better than the previous book which had been stretching the bounds of my “suspension of disbelief”.

    • sakura Says:

      Ha ha, Flavia does indeed stretch the bounds of belief but I love her for it. I do want to see what she will turn in to as she grows up.

  4. Melissa Says:

    I loved this one too. I’ve read all 4 and Flavia and her family of oddballs are just wonderful. I can never remember all the details of the mysteries, but I read them for the characters. I love that it’s been optioned for a TV series!

    • sakura Says:

      I know! I can’t wait for the tv series too. Most of the mysteries I read now tend to be for the characters rather than the mysteries themselves. I think Agatha Christie spoilt it for me or I’ve read too many!

  5. Mystica Says:

    I’ve read this one and one other. Flavia and as Melissa said her family of oddballs are good reading.

  6. nymeth Says:

    I still have to read book 3 before I get to this one, but hopefully I can do it before December and make this my Christmas read of the year. It sounds like so much fun.

    • sakura Says:

      Yes, seasonal reading! I should’ve thought of doing that too but I never think about these things! But yay, you get to read 2 books featuring Flavia so it’s a good thing, right?

  7. Iris Says:

    I have yet to read book two and three, but like Ana I’m already looking forward to reading this for Christmas.

    • sakura Says:

      Ooh, make sure you read them in sequence. I’m not sure whether it’ll make all that much of a difference in the mystery but you get to see how all the relationships evolve.

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