Author: Alan Bradley
Series: Flavia De Luce #7
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: Historical Fiction, Recipe for awesomesauce
Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide. No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school.
But if God hadn’t wanted me to be the way I am, He would have arranged to have me born a haddock instead of Flavia de Luce–wouldn’t He?
Flavia happens to be one of the greatest fictional detectives, mystery-solvers, trouble-enhancer I’ve happened to come across. It was my sincere hope that she would succeed as well at spying and assassinating but that is a prime example of me getting ahead of myself, Flavia and Alan Bradley, which is not advisable.
FdL mysteries, with the exception of book #6, have been so far, it’s my belief upon having read only three of the previous six installments, winter reads–the kind of stories to provide satisfaction while snuggled up in a Harry Potter comforter (actually no can do: pretty as it is, it doesn’t insulate from the cold THAT good). On the other hand, As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust was an exciting tale, the kind that impels one to bite off the nails of both pinkies, for lack of (in recalling) a better terminology.
ACSCtD is remarkable different, in other manners, from its predecessors. For one, Flavia has been banished to a boarding school in Canada, the same where her mother studied, which may or may not be a super-secret-spy-school.
Upon her arrival, she comes across–or rather, a dead body comes across her, demanding to be avenged. Because obviously. But now, it’s not simply about bringing justice to the killer and the dead; her super-secret-might-be-for-spies school is enmeshed in it, and a big part of the book is comprised of deciding whether the school itself is a murderer,–which seems reasonable, with the ghost of three missing girls haunting Ouija boards and laundry rooms and might in turn jeopardize her stay here, THE ESTEEMED SCHOOL WHERE THE ESTEEMED HARRIET STUDIED.
Flavia has her trademark sarcastic wit and frank observation in firm grasp, making her the perfect vessel to tell the story. However, with backlash from the recent grave (pun in bad taste intended) circumstances still casting a pall over her, this estrangement from her family, all that she’s known, in a strange country makes for a sad, lonely Flavia. But being who she is, she gets back on her feet with encouragement from the basic principles of chemistry.
The telling remains both serious and humorous, without going over the top one bit so that her voice is realistically portrayed. And so I wouldn’t have a thing changed.
Who can say no to a personal matter? Even God is curious about such things, which is why He listens to our prayers.
But there was no point in feeling sorry for myself. It is always better, and far more rewarding, I have observed, to have someone else feel sorry for you than to do the job yourself.
Feigning stupidity was one of my specialities. If stupidity were theoretical physics, I would be Albert Einstein.
If you aren’t a FdL fan, either because you couldn’t garner enough interest for the second book or you haven’t read it, I suggest you read book #1, skip all in between, book #6, and then book #7.
WHY? Because, this book alone is worth it and Flavia throughout–if you can manage–is worth it.
Thank you, Random House Publishing Group – Bantam Dell!