Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I do so enjoy this series. Jayne Entwistle's narration helps, I'm sure. While she is not an 11-year-old girl, to me, her voice is Flavia de Luce. She lends a good variety of accents and tones to the other characters' dialogue, too, so that it adds to their characterization and makes them easy to differentiate.

In this book, Flavia is plotting to trap Father Christmas on her roof with a sticky substance. At the same time, the house is rented out to a movie production company for filming on location. When half the village shows up in the middle of a snowstorm to watch the actors put on a charity performance, and one of them turns up dead, Flavia is back to playing detective.

This book breaks the formula a bit, in that the death doesn't occur until you're over halfway through the story. It seems to be solved relatively quickly, then, though Flavia does assemble clues with just as much painstaking attention to detail and chemical properties as in all the previous books. It was a good way to freshen up the story, four books in, and I appreciated the approach.

We also learn several new things about characters. Characters from other books show up without seeming shoehorned in, while those who should be in the story show surprising new facets of themselves to Flavia. The dynamic between sisters is examined, and there are some intriguing developments when both sisters nearly make confessions to Flavia at which the reader can only guess. The author handles these with a light touch, so that it becomes obvious to everyone but Flavia that her sisters aren't the monsters she paints them as (though, being sisters, they're still pretty mean).

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. Mysteries aren't generally my favorite genre, but future installments of this series will get priority on my to-read, thanks to the wonderful voice of the precocious Flavia de Luce. That the narrator is able to capture her whimsy and delight in the macabre makes these audio books all the more enjoyable.

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