I loved this book. It was so nice to go back to Buckshaw, the de Luce family manor, and catch up with Flavia and her family. At long last, we find out what happened to Harriet, Flavia's mother, who disappeared when Flavia was just a baby. The story was more amazing that I could have imagined.
Flavia was precocious as ever, but perhaps a little subdued, like she wasn't quite herself. She is getting older now, as she reminds us that she's almost 12, so that might be it. She always appeared older than her age suggested, but in this book that was magnified. It seemed to me that she did less sleuthing in this one and at one point I thought she gave up a little too easily when met with an obstacle. Her relationship with Gladys, her bike, had me giggling as per usual. If you are not familiar with Gladys, she doesn't have any lines, but she a character nevertheless, at least in Flavia's mind.
Flavia always has a wonderful way of saying things, especially for someone her age. Sometimes she's laugh-out-loud funny; other times, profoundly insightful. There are lots of gems in each of the books. Because the whole mood of the book seemed a little more sombre and I'm sort of in that frame of mind, I choose to highlight two dealing with grief and death:
The problem with bereavement...was learning when to put on and when to take off the various masks that one was required to wear...(page 70).
Death is a bore. It is even harder on the survivors than on the deceased, who at least don't have to worry about when to sit and when to stand, or when to permit a pale smile and when to glance tragically away (page 70).
I could have easily picked another half dozen without much effort, but I'm going to leave it there.
The ending was terrific, yet shocking. With new characters and a hint at a new setting for Flavia, the next book is sure to be exciting. I can't wait.
I have read and LOVED all of the books in the series so far. For my thoughts on each them, go to my Reviews by Author page and scroll down to Bradley, Alan.
While a few of the others in the series can be read out of order, I don't necessarily think that's true about this one. Some background information on family dynamics would definitely be helpful. If this series is new to you, start at the beginning. They are fairly quick reads and you won't regret it.
Highly recommended. It was announced some time ago that 4 additional books have been added to this series. YAY! I hope to read as many as Bradley can write. Also, there's also a series of TV movies planned. Another YAY!
For more information about this book, please visit RandomHouse's website.
For more information about the author and his other books in this series, please visit the Flavia de Luce website.
I'd like to thank those nice people at RandomHouse for this review copy.
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley, Delacorte Press (Random House), ©2014. ISBN 9780385344050(Advance Uncorrected Proof), 314p.