Title: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (Flavia De Luce #4)
Author: Alan Bradley
On the Shelves: Fiction- Crime/Mystery, Series
“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. Amid a blizzard, the village gathers at Buckshaw to watch famed Phyllis Wyvern perform. After midnight, a body is found strangled by film. Flavia investigates” (Goodreads 2013)
I primarily read a lot of Young Adult fiction, genre- speaking, mostly of the Fantasy, Sci-fi and Dystopian genres. So how did I come across this gem of a book? Well, oddly, the week prior to spotting this book in my work’s book shop (yes, I currently work in a bookshop, kind of.) I had been reading my first book of poetry and verse by Lord Alfred Tennyson, one poem which struck a chord with me was The Lady of Shalott– a poem which I recognised from being used in Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle Trilogy (Note to Self: also due for a review on this blog in the future!). I loved The Lady of Shalott because I sympathise a great deal with her. She wishes to experience those situations which she sees others experience every day but cannot because she is locked away…she is “half-sick of shadows”, of witnessing these emotions in others but never actually getting to experience them for herself.
So when I spotted this title tucked amongst the piles of Crime and Mystery thrillers in work, I immediately recognised that line of verse and proceeded to pick it up, read the summary and add it to my Goodreads TBR shelf. It sounded like a brilliant crossover of a British Nancy Drew meeting Agatha Christie’s And Then There were None, which I had devoured earlier in the year.
Let me tell you right now, this book was brilliant. It was humourous, and sweet and full of suspense. Because nothing says “Happy Christmas” like “oh look it’s a murder mystery, guess I have to put my trap for Father Christmas on hold!”
This, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, is the Fourth book in the series by Mr Bradley, and the only one I have read so far- I certainly aim to read the entire series now! The Story unfolds at the De Luce Mansion, where the home owners family, A father and three daughters, are struggling to keep their home with only their dwindling fortunes, when a film crew offers to pay a fair chunk of money to them in return of using their manor home as a set for the new Wyvern movie- too bad someone decides to bump off Miss Wyvern mid-filming while they all get stuck at the house during a snow storm- awkward.
The protagonist of these mysteries is young Flavia De Luce, an 11 year old adventurous girl, who has a deep passion for chemical compounds, specifically in manufacturing poisons, and the occasional crime-solving tendency. She is an engaging character and is by no means perfect. But she is enjoyable to have as your protagonist in this book. Her two sisters, Daffy (Daphne) and Feely (Ophelia), are constantly taking the mickey out of her, as two older sisters always will, but it’s nice to see them interact and try to settle their differences over the Christmas period.
The plot isn’t perfect, it’s a little slow at times and there is no way that an Inspector of police should be so willing and carefree about an 11 year old trampling all over crime scenes and taking evidence constantly without any form of consequences. However, if you don’t take those aspects very seriously, Flavia De Luce is a fun, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable read- I’m looking forward to starting from the beginning of the series and working my way through them all!