Sunday, December 16, 2012

Merry Christmas, Flavia

Title: I Am Half Sick of Shadows
Author: Alan Bradley
Bookmark: lizard in a stick

Christmas comes to Buckshaw, riding on the coat-tails of a film crew.  The Colonel, increasingly desperate in his efforts to pay the bills, has allowed a production crew to set up shop in the family manor, with clear rules as to which areas are available to them and which are entirely off-limits (namely, the boudoir of his late wife and life's great love, Harriet).  Hoping to leverage the star power of Phyllis Wyvern, the movie's headliner, the vicar of Bishop's Lacey arranges a showing of Romeo and Juliet's balcony scene in Buckshaw's expansive foyer, selling tickets to the townspeople.  Then a blizzard blocks the roads and seals off the estate during the show.  Naturally, someone goes and gets themselves murdered.

Flavia is in the middle of dual festive chemical schemes: a fireworks show from Buckshaw's roof, and heavy smears of birdlime at the chimney entrances to capture Saint Nick and prove his existence once and for all to her noxious sisters. Luckily, she still has time to investigate the crime.

I love the series.  I'm a big fan of Flavia, and Bradley.  They are both very clever.  This book is not the best showcase of their talents.  Yes, it's still a lot of fun, and it's festively festivish, for what that's worth, but I felt like not as much effort had gone into the mystery of this outing.  (is it still an outing if the entire novel takes place in Flavia's house?)  I wouldn't go so far as to say that I was disappointed, but I wasn't as overwhelmed with this one as I had been earlier in the series.  Maybe that's ok.  You can't get better with every single effort, or you'll burn yourself out, and I look forward to seeing more of Flavia in the future.

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posted by reyn at 12:11 PM


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