Monday, 23 December 2013

Bibliophilia: Alan Bradley’s Flavia DeLuce Series

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag – Alan Bradley
A Red Herring Without Mustard – Alan Bradley
I Am Half-sick of Shadows – Alan Bradley
Speaking From Among the Bones – Alan Bradley

After reading the first one of these, I enjoyed it so much, I immediately grabbed the second, and before I knew it I had finished all five.

It’s one of those books that both adults and young adults can get into. It’s a murder mystery, but not anything gory/scary.

The main character/heroine is a precocious/resourceful 11 year old called Flavia De Luce with a penchant for chemistry, poisons being her favourite subject. She is part of an eccentric and dysfunctional family and resides in a rambling and crumbling English country mansion. The year is 1950.

Like the characters (main and supporting), like the setting, the dialogue is brilliant. It’s a bit Agatha Christie, some Nancy Drew thrown in, with a dose of Lemony Snickett for good measure. The character is precocious without being precious, clever without being smarmy. There is a gravitas to her because of the fact that her mother died when she was a baby. Makes her believable. One of the best fictional characters I’ve encountered in quite some time.

After the cliff hanger ending of the 5th book, I am eagerly awaiting delivery of the 6th, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.

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