I finished this book in December, and it was the perfect thing to read on cold, wintery nights. The fourth installment of the Buckshaw Chronicles—I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley—opens with Flavia de Luce in full form.
It’s Christmas time, and our beloved Flavia is tucked away in her laboratory whipping up a sticky concoction to trap that infamous sneak, Saint Nick, and thereby prove once and for all—despite the claims of her evil sisters—that he does exist.
But she is soon distracted from her task: her father, in desperate need of funds, has rented the family’s crumbling manor house to a film company for the holidays. When its crew arrives from London to shoot a movie starring the reclusive and renowned actress, Phyllis Wyvern, there’s no end to the disruptions – and dramas – demanding Flavia’s attention.
Wyvern is convinced to perform a famous scene to help raise funds for the local church, and it is decided that Buckshaw is the only suitable location. Its foyer alone is bigger than the parish hall, and could fit every man, woman, and child in Bishop’s Lacey, to a soul. It’s almost Christmas Eve, but as the actors take to the stage, the blizzard sets in, and the villagers will have to hunker down at Buckshaw for the night, sleeping head to toe in the de Luces’ foyer.
But that evening, Phyllis Wyvern is found strangled to death in the Blue Bedroom, with a length of film from one of her movies tied in an elaborate bow around her neck. As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of her chemical cleverness and crime-solving prowess to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight—and will Flavia be able to escape in one piece?
adapted from the publisher’s back cover copy (Doubleday Canada, a subset of Random House Canada)
What I enjoyed about the other three titles in the Buckshaw Chronicles by Alan Bradley holds true; Flavia is a witty, intelligent, and humourous narrator. Something about this book recaptured whatever I felt was missing from book two and three (but couldn’t put my finger on it at the time).
I could easily rave about Flavia, and go over all the points I liked and disliked about the book. But to be honest, I find the Buckshaw Chronicles entertaining and slightly fluffy. They’re well-written and very enjoyable, and easy to get absorbed in. It’s not trying to be high literature—it is simply an enjoyable series that I’m able to recommend to a wide variety of readers. The style, tone, and general take on death is light, humourous, and easy to read. It’s difficult to say much more about this book that won’t spoil plot points or nitpick minor details. So go, read, enjoy!
I received this book for review from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way, shape, or form.