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

4.5 out of 5 stars 330 customer reviews

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Length: 305 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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"Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival. See more

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Editorial Reviews


“With its sharply drawn characters, including the hiss-worthy older de Luce sisters, and an agreeable puzzle playing out against the cozy backdrop of a British village at Christmas, this is a most welcome holiday gift for Flavia fans.”
Publishers Weekly

“That serial charmer Flavia, wreathed in Tennyson and Shakespeare.” 
Kirkus Reviews
“We find in Flavia an incorrigible and wholly lovable detective; from her chemical experiments in her sanctum sanctorum to her outrage at the idiocy of the adult world, she is unequaled.”
Library Journal (starred review)

Selected praise for Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce books:
“Think of Flavia as a new Sherlock in the making.”
, on A Red Herring Without Mustard
“Bradley is a writer of great charm and insight, and he infuses even minor characters with incredible personality . . . Flavia de Luce, both eleven and ageless, is a marvel and a delight.”
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, on The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
”A wickedly clever story, a dead-true and original voice, and an English country house in the summer: Alexander McCall Smith meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Please, please, Mr. Bradley, tell me we’ll be seeing Flavia again soon?”
—Laurie R. King, bestselling author of Pirate King, on The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie


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: 3629 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (November 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004X6PSCW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,019 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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 seventh Flavia de Luce mystery, "As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust" will be published in the US and Canada on January 6, 2015, and in the UK on April 23.

The first-ever Flavia short story, "The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse" has recently been published in eBook format, as has his 2006 memoir, "The Shoebox Bible".

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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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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