Monday, December 5, 2011
Monday Review: I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS by Alan Bradley
I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS is another engaging entry in the wonderful Flavia de Luce mysteries by Canadian writer, Alan Bradley.
The setting is a huge, dilapidated house in the English countryside. It is the early 1950's and eleven year old Flavia is up to her usual plotting and sleuthing as her home is invaded by film makers over the Christmas holiday. Buckshaw, the de Luce family estate has been usurped (for a very welcome fee, of course), by a troupe of movie people bent on using the colorful pile as backdrop for a film starring beloved world-famous actress Phyllis Wyvern.
As a snowy blizzard rages outside on Christmas Eve, half the townspeople are forced to spend the night at Buckshaw - they'd been invited earlier to see a a scene from Romeo and Juliet performed by Wyvern and her leading man, Desmond Duncan - a fund-raising event on behalf of a new roof for the local church.
Though Flavia has other fish to fry, she is still beside herself with excitement as she scuttles about the house observing the theatrical comings and goings of the cast and crew.
Flavia's other fish: She has a plot afoot to trap Father Christmas on the roof. She is whipping up a concoction of bird lime in her late great uncle's laboratory on the top floor of the house - science prodigy Flavia's preferred place in the world. Why the sticky glue-like birdlime? Well, Flavia plans to prove Father Christmas is real by entrapping him on the roof and proving to her sisters, once and for all, that he exists. To that end, she goes up to the roof on Christmas Eve, despite the snow, and smears birdlime near the chimneys and wherever she thinks Father Christmas might walk when he stops by in the night to deliver presents.
Sometimes you just have to shake your head.
But in the meantime, murder occurs and Flavia is on the scene ready to get to the bottom of things, eager to lend a hand to Inspector Hewitt when he and his police team eventually make their way through the snow, to Buckshaw.
My only quibble with I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS is, that it was too short. The pages just flew by and in the end, I wanted more - wanted to spend more time with Flavia and her often odious sisters (though in this book, they are mellowed a bit by Christmas) and her sad, silent, brooding, stamp-loving dad, Havilland de Luce.
Note: the title of the book is taken from the poem by Tennyson, THE LADY OF SHALOTT.
For a complete list of the Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley, please use this link.