Sunday, February 17, 2013

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley

In Speaking From Among the Bones, it's the 500th anniversary of Saint Tancred's death and the hamlet of Bishop Lacey is preparing to open his crypt. 11-year-old Flavia de Luce is really excited to get a glimpse of what's inside, but before they can get to the Saint, Flavia discovers the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist. Determined to find out who wanted him dead, she embarks on her investigation.

As with the other books in the Flavia de Luce series, I really enjoyed this one. It's really a terrific addition to the series. This installment, the 5th, finds Flavia still precocious and totally enamoured with chemistry and her lab, but something is definitely different and even Flavia herself is not sure what's going on. For possibly the first time, she's not at constant war with her two older sisters. I know, it's shocking!

In fact, there are lots of changes are happening at Buckshaw, the family manor. Because Flavia doesn't have time to keep up with what's going on there, not with Mr. Collicutt's murder to solve, some of them take her by complete surprise.

I especially love Flavia's "relationship" with Gladys, her bicycle. She talks to her and about her as though she were a real person. Some of those lines are priceless. As for other relationships, Flavia knows she's a child, but doesn't like to be treated like one. Those who treat her like an adult, like Dogger, are more likely to gain her favour.

In her chemistry lab, Flavia whips up a recipe, although Flavia calls it an "invention", for Steamed Eggs on page 208. Flavia doesn't just go through the procedure. Because she's a chemist at heart, she describes chemical composition of egg shells and why this method works better than Mrs. Mullet's method, which leave the eggs "with their green circle around the yolk, looking for all the world like the planet Saturn with its rings poisoned". She's just brilliant.

Bradley always seems to use a few words that are totally foreign to me. I love learning new words, so I love when I come across a new-to-me one and I can look it up. Here are a few from this book: judder (page 72): vibrate, shudder
bombazine (page 98): twilled material
crosier (page 114): rod carried by a bishop
encomium (page 126): high praise
squalene (page 149): substance (a hydrocarbon) found in the liver
diapason (page 162): pipe organ's main stop
pervigilation (page 192): careful watching
deleterious (page 195): harmful
shandygaff (page 304): a drink made of beer and ginger beer

I absolutely loved the ending. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say that it will leave fans of this series simply breathless. A perfect lead up to the next book in the series.

Just because of the ending, I'm going to say that if you are new to the series, this might not be the best one to start with. The mystery itself is standalone, but other things that happen in the book, including the ending, needs some background information to be truly enjoyed. In fact, if you are at all interested, do yourself a favour and start at the beginning with book one. You won't regret it.

Highly recommended. I'm anxiously waiting for the next book.

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

For more information about the author, Flavia de Luce, and other books in the series, please visit Flavia de Luce's website.

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

Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley, Doubleday Canada (Random House), ©2013. ISBN 9780385668125(Hardcover), 358p.


  1. I read the first book in this series, loved it and sadly, never made it back! Now I feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of Flavia's story. Your review makes me want to go back though.

  2. I have heard so much about this series and it's all good. I have the first one on audio and I really need to get to it. Maybe I'll make that my next listen. I love new words too. That's a pretty good list for this book.

  3. Oh no! I'm further behind on Flavia than I realized. I read the first one and loved it but have never gotten around to the rest. Moving them to the top of my library request list.


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