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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel Hardcover – November 1, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 340 customer reviews
Book 4 of 5 in the Flavia de Luce Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

About the Author

Alan Bradley is the internationally bestselling author of many short stories, children’s stories, newspaper columns, and the memoir The Shoebox Bible. His first Flavia de Luce novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, received the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, the Dilys Winn Award, the Arthur Ellis Award, the Agatha Award, the Macavity Award, and the Barry Award, and was nominated for the Anthony Award. His other Flavia de Luce novels are The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, A Red Herring Without MustardI Am Half-Sick of ShadowsSpeaking from Among the Bones, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, andAs Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust.
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Product Details

  • Series: Flavia de Luce (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780385344012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385344012
  • ASIN: 0385344015
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (340 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Maine Colonial TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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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: Paperback
Why can't Amazon post a simple list of an author's titles in order of publication? If you discover an author, you might like to read them in the order they were written, to appreciate the characters' (and the author's) development. Here's the list of Alan Bradley's charming, scary, funny Flavia de Luce Novels, as of December 2014.

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
Enjoy!
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