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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel [Kindle Edition]

Alan Bradley
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $5.99
You Save: $9.01 (60%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“Every Flavia de Luce novel is a reason to celebrate.”—USA Today
“[Alan] Bradley has created one of the most original, charming, devilishly creative and hilarious detectives of any age or any time.”—Bookreporter
It’s Christmastime, and Flavia de Luce—an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry—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 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 ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Alan Bradley's Speaking from Among the Bones.
“[Flavia is] the most intrepid and charming adolescent chemist/detective/busybody in all of rural, post–World War II England.”—The Seattle Times
“Quirky and delightful . . . Flavia is a classic literary character who manages to appeal to both young and old readers equally.”—Wichita Falls Times Record News
“Bradley’s plot twists and turns delightfully.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Editorial Reviews


Acclaim for Alan Bradley’s beloved Flavia de Luce novels, winners of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Dilys Winn Award, and Arthur Ellis Award
“If ever there was a sleuth who’s bold, brilliant, and yes, adorable, it’s Flavia de Luce.”—USA Today

“Delightful . . . [Flavia is] a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes. . . . Fearless, cheeky, wildly precocious.”—The Boston Globe, on The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
 “Utterly beguiling . . . wicked wit . . . The real delight here is [Flavia’s] droll voice and the eccentric cast.”—People (four stars), on The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
“Outstanding . . . [a] marvelous blend of whimsy and mystery.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review), on A Red Herring Without Mustard


Acclaim for Alan Bradley's beloved Flavia de Luce novels, winners of the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award, Barry Award, Agatha Award, Macavity Award, Dilys Winn Award, and Arthur Ellis Award

"If ever there was a sleuth who's bold, brilliant, and yes, adorable, it's Flavia de Luce."--"USA Today"

"Delightful . . . [Flavia is] a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes. . . . Fearless, cheeky, wildly precocious.""--The Boston Globe, "on" The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie"
" "
"Utterly beguiling . . . wicked wit . . . The real delight here is [Flavia's] droll voice and the eccentric cast."--"People" (four stars), on" The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag"
" "
"Outstanding . . . [a] marvelous blend of whimsy and mystery."--"Publishers Weekly" (starred review), ""on "A Red Herring Without Mustard"

Product Details

  • File Size: 1499 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1409114201
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (November 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004X6PSCW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,215 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eloise, I mean Flavia, at Christmastime October 27, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Buckshaw, the huge house of the de Luce family, is mostly shut up. There is very little money to maintain the house and Colonel de Luce has had to agree to allow a movie crew to use the house as a film set just to make enough money to fend off bankruptcy a little longer. Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce regrets that the crew's use of the great hall means the family won't be able to put up the usual Christmas tree and decorations, but she plans to compensate for the loss with the entertainment of secretly observing the visitors.

As always, Flavia is also deeply occupied with various experiments in her fully-equipped chemistry laboratory, originally outfitted by her uncle Tar. At the moment, her chief experiment is a fairly simple one. She has whipped up a super-sticky birdlime to coat Buckshaw's chimneys. This is intended to prove her hypothesis, much derided by her elder sisters Ophelia and Daphne, that Father Christmas exists. If he does exist, Flavia expects to find him adhered to the chimney on Christmas Eve and to join all of the house and surrounding countryside in admiration of the stupendous fireworks display Flavia has planned with all the firepower she has managed to cook up in her lab.

Before all that, though, there is another exciting event. The vicar has persuaded lead actors Phyllis Wyvern and Desmond Duncan to help raise funds for the church roof project by enacting the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet in the great hall to an audience from the nearby village of Bishop's Lacey. During the thrilling show, a blizzard rages on outside, snowing in the villagers. That means we have a normally nearly-empty Buckshaw now full to the rafters with the family, the film crew and half the village. A perfect setup for a murder, which obligingly occurs.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still enjoyable, but the mystery is half-baked at best November 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There is plenty to love in this installment of Flavia de Luce's adventures, especially if you are her existing fan. "I Am Half-Sick of Shadows" is a Christmas story, with a great infusion of some new blood, which is a must for any series focusing on such a tiny place as Bishop's Lacey. Flavia's father is forced to rent out Buckshaw to a movie company to film its new feature. When the star of the movie is found murdered, Flavia is on full alert. Now she has two Christmas cases on her hands - the murder and her project to confirm the existence of Santa. Whatever you liked about the previous books in the series, is all there - the humor, the charm, the interesting characters, the mischief.

However, I feel that in their zeal to deliver "I Am Half-Sick of Shadows" just in time for Christmas, Bradley and his gang of editors and agents forgot to pay attention to the quality of this novel. To put it bluntly, it is half-baked. Besides the wonky motives of the killer, far-fetching backstories of some characters, multiple pointless cameo appearances of characters from previous books and half-hearted at best red herrings, this book lacks simple continuity. The part that especially stood out for me (unless, of course, I misunderstood it) was when a certain character in one chapter is sent out in a snowstorm to fetch a couple of people, in the next chapter is sitting in the Buckshaw's living room chatting and in the next is just coming from outside with the couple (if you are curious, I am talking about Sergeant Graves in chapters 13-15). How is it possible that an editor of this book didn't notice this discrepancy, if even I, a person absolutely unobservant, did? As usual in such cases, I am pretty sure nobody had read this manuscript before rushing it into print.

In spite of its many obvious flaws, the book was still entertaining and funny. I just hope the next one is edited and constructed better.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Flavia Stocking Stuffer November 11, 2011
I liked this one, but not as much as the others in the series. It took a while to get going.

The entire book is set in Buckshaw, Flavia's epic estate. This incredible mansion would be a fine enough setting, but I missed Flavia zipping around Bishop's Lacey on her trusty bicycle, Gladys. At the half-way point, the residents Bishop's Lacey comes to Buckshaw for a show. Ah-ha, Flavia doesn't need to travel to Bishop's Lacey; Bishop's Lacey will come to her! This is when I finally became invested in the book, only to be a little disappointed when the quirky residents are under-utilized. I've wanted Flavia to have another chat with the town's little gossip maven, Maximillion Brock, ever since her debut novel.

Many of the new and returning characters are also haphazardly sprinkled about. Two or three of movie crew seem to exist purely to lurk around and be shady suspects, and a returning character from The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag makes an appearance that serves absolutely no narrative purpose.

Flavia does spend a bit of the novel pre-occupied with capturing Saint Nicholas. Her brilliant scheme to trap him--of course involving an ingenious chemical mixture--reminds us that despite her brilliant scientific and deduction skills, Flavia is still an eleven-year-old girl.

There are some funny and tender moments, but this holiday Flavia is more of a delightful stocking stuffer than a filling Christmas feast.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Am Half-Sick of Flavia (Spoilers Attached) November 16, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There is no doubt whatsoever that the precocious, delightful Flavia de Luce is one of the two most significant creations to grace the mystery field in the past decade, the other being Stieg Larsson's Lisbeth Salander. One can only thank our lucky stars for that moment of inspired genius when she popped into Alan Bradley's head. That said, I am becoming increasingly impatient with our horrid little heroine, and Bradley's haphazard (dare I say "sloppy") storytelling. First of all, I think it's significant that in the first book the murder was discovered (if I recall correctly) at the end of Chapter One. In "Half-Sick," the murder doesn't take place until the end of Chapter Eleven. Which means that there's a great deal of time spent on local color, life at Buckshaw and what passes for "set-up," although most of the latter turns out to be wholly insignificant. The mystery itself and its denouement aren't all that interesting (or important, apparently), and while this has always been true of the de Luce books, it's even more so here (or is it less?). And because we never get to know the suspects beyond their superficial characteristics, we're never invested in "whodunit."

Look, I get it, people read the de Luce books for one reason only and that's to spend time with Flavia -- and why, not, she's great company. Bradley is masterful at getting into the mind of this smarter-than-we'll-ever-be pre-teen, with her contradictory emotions. (Her growing pains in this volume are particularly well represented.) Miss de Luce is wickedly funny, touching and true to life (despite her fascination with death), and the supporting characters surrounding her have become sharper and more real with each book. (I have not, admittedly, read the third in the series.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Cute, witty and an excellent adult read! Flavia is smart, funny and uses logical methods for solving crimes! I love Flavia!
Published 1 day ago by Suzanne Fantaro
5.0 out of 5 stars Flavia
Bradley's series just gets better and better! I look forward to the next installment. Flavia , you're a real winner!
Published 3 days ago by ht
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Flavia books
I am still reading this book and only read a few chapters at a time as I don't want it to end, It's really good.
Published 8 days ago by LuLu
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't get enough
I stumbled onto Alan Bradley as I was scrounging for a good mystery to read. Happily, I found that I LOVE Flavia de Luce! Read more
Published 19 days ago by P. Halon
5.0 out of 5 stars love this series
I love the time period, the place, and the characters! This one goes further into the development of almost all the characters...can't wait to read the next one. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Karen Henley
4.0 out of 5 stars Another mysterious death for Flavia
Now this novel at least varies the setting somewhat because it takes place in the dead of winter at Christmas time, and in the De Luce home at Buckshaw. Read more
Published 1 month ago by cathy anderegg
5.0 out of 5 stars audio book was a great price and excellent condition.
My daughter recommended this book. I found it on Amazon for a great price. I am very happy with this purchase. Thanks
Published 1 month ago by Lana Torres
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Read
This is a fun light hearted mystery series. Great book for the beach or an airplane ride. Thank you, _
Published 1 month ago by Malia Luke
5.0 out of 5 stars I love the Flavia de Luce stories!
When I read my first Flavia novel by Alan Bradley I felt like I have made this great discovery! I couldn't wait to recommend one of his novels to my book club. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Patricia
5.0 out of 5 stars another flavia hit
A fun read for any of Flavia's many fans. I enjoyed the pacing and plot of this book. Not just for Christmas reading!
Published 2 months ago by GCC
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More About the Author

Alan Bradley received the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, his first novel, which went on to win the Agatha Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Macavity Award and the Spotted Owl Award. He is the author of many short stories, children's stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. He co-authored Ms. Holmes of Baker Street with the late William A.S. Sarjeant. Bradley lives in Malta with his wife and two calculating cats. His sixth Flavia de Luce mystery, "The Dead In Their Vaulted Arches" will be published in the US and Canada on January 14, 2014, and in the UK on March 3.

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