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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel Hardcover – November 1, 2011
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“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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce novels in order:
1. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, 1/2010
2. The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, 2/2011
3. A Red Herring Without Mustard, 10/2011
4. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, 10/2012
5. Speaking from Among the Bones, 12/2013
6. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, 1/2014
7. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, 1/2015
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Delightful as ever, but the deepest in relationships.
I have nothing more to say, but more words are required, alas.
Flavia ia a delight as a worldly-wise pre-teen. You might even learn a thing or two about chemistry.Published 1 month ago by L. Pratt
love these books the series is wonderful i cant wait to read all the booksPublished 1 month ago by Theresa Reyes
I have enjoyed all of the Flavia De Luce novels. They are so well-written and such a fun time.Published 2 months ago by A A
Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce is one of my very favorite sleuths. I confess that I have read all of his mystery books to date and am so looking forward to his latest book in the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lucy V.
Hard to put down. Best read in order with others in the series, although not a must requirement for newbies.Published 3 months ago by sam
The jolly adventures continue and the reader finds themselves transported in time and place, right in the thick of it, and into the mind of my favorite heroine, Flavia de Luce!!!Published 3 months ago by Barbara Schneider
The characters are too much of a caricature, especially Flavia, the heroine. She is horrible to her sisters who are also cruel to her, which makes the her a more unsympathetic... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Taratara