Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

It's Flavia time! In I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, 11 year-old Flavia is busy working on a trap to snare St. Nick and his reindeer, but becomes distracted when the film crew shows up at Buckshaw, her cash-strapped family's mansion, to film a movie starring Phyllis Wyvern, a famous actress. As the whole town gathers to watch the actress perform, a blizzard rages outside. When a body is later discovered strangled with a length of film, the suspects abound. Flavia must once again work her magic to solve this one.

I loved this book! In this 4th book in the series, Flavia is up to her old tricks creating potions and working in her laboratory. I love mysteries like this - the classic locked room type scenario, where the suspects are all trapped in one area by happenstance and the protagonist has to sort it all out, especially when they are as good as this was is.

I was so happy to see Flavia again. She's one of my favourite fictional characters. She's precocious and delightful. I love the way her mind works and love reading her inner dialogue. She's young in age, but seems so mature in her thoughts and dealings with other people. She's seen more dead bodies now than any girl her age should have, yet she's still up for the task of solving the mystery. Besides finding the murderer, she stays true to her passion of chemistry. Her elaborate scheme to catch St. Nick in the act is brilliant!

I'm a huge fan of this series and I love how it's progressing. It doesn't seem to be fading at all and seeing Flavia again is like seeing an old friend. It really doesn't get old. I love that we are learning more and more about the family and their dynamics. I still worry about them between books. I know they are fictional, but I want everything to work out for them. I'm afraid that their future at Buckshaw is in real jeopardy and that Father might not be able to care for the girls much longer. All of those thoughts are for another day, though. They are just too depressing for such a delightful and timely book.

New words:
pantechnicon (page 17): a large moving van (U.K.)
dekko (page 68): a quick look (U.K.)
chaffinch (page 69): European songbird
brambling (page 69): finch (European)
darbies (page 247): British slang for hand cuffs

Other books in the series and my reviews:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (my review)
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (my review)
A Red Herring Without Mustard (my review)

Even though this book is part of a series, it definitely can be read as a standalone book. In fact, this is true for any one of them.

Highly recommended. I can't wait for the next book.

For more information about this book, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author, his other books and, of course, Flavia, please visit the Flavia de Luce Fan Club website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, Doubleday Canada (Random House), ©2011. ISBN 9780385668095(Hard cover), 271p.


  1. I'm glad to see this was such a hit with you - I was a bit worried that it was capitalizing on the Christmas season (less substance than the others).

    Flavia is a wonderful and precocious protagonist -- I'll be adding I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS to my wish list!

  2. I have GOT to catch up on this series. I've only read the first one and loved it - I'm putting the next three on my list for 2012. Thanks for the review and for reminding me of that I need to get reading.

    Sorry I haven't been around to comment much lately. Seems to be too many things to do this time of year. Why is it the fun stuff is what gets left behind? :)

    Have a Merry Christmas.

  3. Haven't read any of these, good review

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net


Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. Unfortunately, I've been getting lots of spam comments, so I'm turning on word verification to help keep spammers away. I know it's a pain; I don't like it either. Hopefully, in time I'll be able to turn it off again. Thank you!