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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 (266 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: #32,381 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 66 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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29 of 31 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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely and utterly charming. October 28, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
After devouring this fourth novel to feature Flavia de Luce I've come to the conclusion that I don't actually read these books for the mystery. As a dedicated reader of mystery novels it is a bonus to have an old fashioned mystery to solve, but that's not what ultimately keeps me coming back for each book. No, what I want, and what I got in spades with this addition to the series, is the chance to spend more time with this eleven year old precious child and all the people surrounding her. This time Gladys (the bicycle) was stored in the greenhouse for the winter so Flavia couldn't ride throughout the villages and hamlets of rural 1950's England observing life among the locals. Instead, author Alan Bradley had the villagers come to Buckshaw for a Christmas Eve performance in aid of the roof restoration fund for St. Tancred church. Whatever will we readers do if they ever collect enough money to repair that roof?

Flavia has been told by her sisters Ophelia (Feely) and Daphne (Daffy) that Father Christmas is simply a folk myth created by adults so they can give their children gifts one day of the year without having to touch the little beasts while doing so. Feely and Daffy are quite cruel to Flavia at times but in this instance she is going to be able to prove her sisters wrong and do it in a completely scientific way. Flavia will manufacture her own preparation of birdlime, spread it on the chimneys of Buckshaw and Father Christmas will be stuck to the chimney until she sets him free. Proof at long last! Naturally, the plan doesn't go off without many hitches along the way. Colonel Haviland de Luce has given in to the inevitable with his heavy debt problems and allowed Ilium Films to use Buckshaw as the location for their newest film.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Series
These books are pretty good. Well written with sharp attention to detail. I wish there twice as many already written.
Published 11 days ago by That Quiet[ish] Guy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazingly written thriller with humor, insight and imagination.
Published 13 days ago by Graham Alcock
5.0 out of 5 stars More Flavia, Please!
Love it! I so enjoy the mind if young Flavia, Buckshaw and the relationships between Dogger, Flavia, her father and Inspector Hewitt. Plain fun!
Published 19 days ago by Roxy Rich
5.0 out of 5 stars Flavia Strikes Again
This was a wonderful read.. Humorous, interesting, with a lively plot. I hated to see it end.
Published 21 days ago by Patricia Winkler
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! But then again
Loved it! But then again, I love all of them and eagerly await the next one, out in seven months. Hope I can wait that long!
Thanks Mr. Bradley, for an intelligent read.
Published 21 days ago by sandra
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the series
My favorite one of the series. Laugh-out-loud humor and charmingly drawn characters make for a book you can't put down. I feel as though I know everyone in the village. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Elizabeth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another wonderful Flavia de Luce adventure!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Flavia de Luce Mystery
Another delighted Flavia de Luce Mystery. Each one has been a book I could not put down.
Published 1 month ago by A. Garrett
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this series
I love this series. I am reading them in order. This author does such a good job. He makes you believe that you are really dealing with a very smart 11 y.o. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mary Johnston
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the previous two
Disappointing. Not as good as the previous two.
Published 1 month ago by Pavlin Lange
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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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