Flavia Strikes Again!

Alan Bradley As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
Publisher: Random House /Bartam Dell (January 6, 2015)
418 pp
4 stars
Genre: YA series, science fantasy, Sherlock Holmes fans
Sequel to The Dead in their Vaulted Arches
Read in one sitting, as all previous books were, often late into the night.

Author:
Alan Bradley was born in Toronto, Canada and grew up in the lakeside town of Cobourg, Ont. After a career in television broadcasting, he retired from the University of Saskatchewan to write full-time. He publications include children’s stories, lifestyle and arts columns in Canadian newspapers and screenplays. His adult stories have been broadcast on CBC radio and published in various literary journals. He was the recipient of the first Saskatchewan Writers Guild Award for Children’s Literature.

The first in the series, “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” won the 2007 Debut Dagger Award of the Crime Writers Association in the UK; the 2009 Agatha Award for Best First Novel; the 2010 Dilys, awarded by the International Mystery Booksellers Association; the Spotted Owl Award, given by the Friends of Mystery, and the 2010 Arthur Ellis Award, given by the Crime Writers of Canada for Best First Novel. It was also nominated for an Anthony Award, a Barry Award, and a Macavity Award. Sweetness made numerous lists and awards including the New York Times, as a Favorite Mystery of 2009, an American Library Association nominee as Best Book For Young Adults; a Barnes and Noble Bestseller. The audiobook version of “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” was voted Best AudioBook by iTunes. The books are all NYTimes best sellers. Don’t miss the audio books narrated by Jayne Entwistle- she is absolutely perfect, and recently (11/14) won Outstanding Audiobook Narration for The Dead in their Vaulted Arches.
Academy Award-winning producer/director Sam Mendes, of “Skyfall” and “American Beauty” fame has optioned for Flavia for television movies (2012).

Story line:
This is book 7 in what I hope is a long series of sleuthing for our intrepid youngster Flavia De Luce. Please read these in order as there is a good progression of character, friendships, sleuthing techniques and ‘in jokes’. My favourites are volumes 1,6 and now 7. If you love the Flavia stories you will definitely enjoy this installment although it is not set in England.
Flavia has been banished from her Beloved Buckshaw, transported to the wilds of Canada (Toronto, 1951). Flavia is to study at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, her mother’s alma mater, and take part in a secret society NIDE. (Now run by her Aunt Felicity, and which we suspect Flavia will excel in). This is a boarding school with a secret mission, but also a mystery as there is always a body for Flavia to inspect. She has become more than a precocious preteen; while she has her trademark sarcastic wit and refreshing observations, she is growing up, becoming more analytical and thoughtful. She was terribly homesick, but felt the excitement and discovery of new places. She was grieving for her mother (whose body was just returned home), missing Dogger and scones, but successfully dealing with new girls (not her sisters) and making adjustments. She remains a very strong, original female lead and roll model.
I loved the literary quotes. I loved her anticipation and recognition of the science lab, her exposure to new, interesting adult teachers. The mystery was a minor component for me in comparison to her experiences in the new environment. While it is a satisfactory clever conclusion, it was rather sudden, although predictable, there are a number of interesting questions/themes remaining for several more books. I thought the emotional swings and roundabouts were realistic and help ground the character development of Flavia. There is a pitch perfect description of the convent and many academics. I hope and suspect we will see more of them.
I would have liked more information on the school and Harriet when she was a student here. And more on the teachers, especially as Flavia was all too suddenly whisked away. I suspect Bradley knows we are reading this series for Flavia and that we will see more adventures, in time and place as she grows up.
Meanwhile, Buckshaw looms on the horizon.
And I must find Bradley’s memoir The Shoebox Bible.

Read on:
If you like Harriet the Spy or Lemony Snickett’s Violet Baudeleaire.
Or listen to Jayne Entwistle narrate Julie Berry’s Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place.
Also note there is a Flavia short story recently epublished “The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse”

Quotes:
First sentence:
Banished! The wind shrieked as it tore at my face.”

The maggots were nothing new: I had thought of them often while dwelling on the delights of decomposition. Daffy had even read out to me at the breakfast table — “Knowing your proclivities,” she had said, smirking — that wonderful passage from Love’s Labour’s Lost, where one of the characters says, “These summer-flies have blown me full of maggot ostentation.” It had caused Father to put aside his sausages, get up, and leave the room, but had given me a whole new appreciation of Shakespeare.

“And this must be our little Flavia!”
On paper the man was already dead.

Magic doesn’t work when you’re sad.

Desperation is capable of wonderful things.

Received as an ARC ebook through Netgalley, purchased hardback for my collection.
(Just delighted to read this early, and now impatiently waiting for the next installment)

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