I totally enjoyed Alan Bradley‘s “I am half-sick of Shadows,” a twisty story from the viewpoint of a precocious young girl named Flavia de Luce who is enamored with chemicals and poisons, AND who possesses a super-sleuth nose for solving murders. “She always finds the bodies,” was a quote I read, and indeed she does. But she also can see, hear, and smell clues for solving the murder that no Policeman can hope to have. Her persistence, inquisitiveness, and power of deduction might rival a young Sherlock Holms! Of course the Police take all the credit, and only occasionally do they thank her for her super intelligent input.
In this story, because of financial woes, half of Buckshaw, the family’s aging relic of a house, is rented out to a film company to record and show the famous love scene from Romeo and Juliet for a Christmas charity. Actors, the producer, the film crew and spectators fill the old house as a winter snow falls heavily around them. Someone dies (and someone is born) and there is a big fight on top of the snowy roof. Who, what, when, and why are the questions young Flavia seeks to discover in this murder mystery, and nothing short of her own death will stop her. And all the while she investigates, she is looking for Father Christmas to come down the chimney (well, one of them). She needs more supplies for her science lab!!
A touch of sadness at the end of the book seems appropriate and respectful, but it’s forgotten in the very last wonder-filled scene.
Jayne Entwistle, the narrator for the Flavia de Luce books, is absolutely fabulous. She has the perfect voice to make the little girl come alive. And you hardly notice when she slips occasionally into the other characters’ voices. You just get lost in the story as she reads.
And the author, Alan Bradley is a wonder. How did he ever think up Flavia de Luce? And seriously, his knowledge of chemicals and poisons and the processes of so many things makes me wonder if he didn’t submerged himself in scientific things as a young lad as well. And his talent in weaving of a mystery for Flavia to solve, is fun and amazing. And his titles, how in the world are they thought-up? Anyway, thanks for another great “listen.”
PS: The visual of the opening scene, is jaw dropping. Nothing less than you would expect with Flavia of course, but still….