Oh how I love Flavia! The eleven-year-old protagonist and chemistry wizard is the heart and soul of Alan Bradley’s cozy mystery series; and like Anne of Green Gables and Jo March, she is so artfully depicted that I just want her to be real. “Speaking from Among the Bones” is Bradley’s fifth Flavia deLuce mystery, and I really enjoyed this installment, especially since the character development continued with the other family members into much greater depth than ever before.
When Flavia discovers the church organist dead and wearing a gas mask, tucked inside the organ case, the exhuming of St. Tancred (for his 500th anniversary) is halted. Flavia has to do her usual undercover sleuthing, while using her vast knowledge of poisons, etc. to figure out who is involved and why. Along the way, various suspects and interesting characters cross paths, but none so interesting as Flavia herself and her family: her rather distracted father, and terrorizing older sisters Daffy (Daphne) and Feely (Ophelia).
Bradley’s writing makes me laugh out loud and Flavia’s voice is strong and unique. She is one of my favorite characters of all time.
While the first installment, “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie”, is still my favorite of this series, this story is a close second. But readers beware: there is a MAJOR cliffhanger at the end!
See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate. And THANK YOU to Net Galley and Delacorte Press for my ARC!!
This book comes out at the end of January.
Here’s what I had to say about the first in the series:
I received this novel through Net Galley and was excited to read it. Taking place in the 1950′s and 60′s in Ireland, it tells the story of a young, Catholic woman, Marian, who finds herself in love with a Jewish colleague at the school where they teach. When she discovers she is pregnant, she goes away to a “home” to have the baby and then puts the baby up for adoption, thinking he will have a better life in America. Ten years later, and now married to her then boyfriend and with a young daughter, she discovers that their son has lived in a nearby orphanage all his years. Marian and her husband try to get custody of their son, Adrian, and work to fit him into their family, even as they continue to struggle as an inter-faith couple. But first they must convince the establishment that they are capable and worthy of raising their son.
While I really enjoyed this book, and particularly couldn’t put it down in the last few chapters, I was a bit disheartened at the portrayal of the religious people in this book as fanatical, sadistic, and depraved (full disclosure: I’m Catholic). I guess I’m just tired of reading books and seeing movies where 99% of the nuns/priest/brothers are portrayed as evil. That said, I know that deplorable conditions existed in some places (anyone see the movie “The Magdalenes”??).
Beyond that, I found the main character portrayals and the depth of emotions in the main characters the strengths in this novel. How would it feel to find your son after all those years? How do you unite a family that has never been a family yet? How much does our religion guide our lives and relationships?
A thought-provoking book! I’ll look forward to more from Ms. Henry.
Thanks for my copy, Net Galley and T.S. Poetry Press!!
See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate:
Love, love, love.
I just love the character of young chemistry wiz Flavia deLuce in this series of books by Alan Bradley. I know they are often billed as YA, but I think they are fine for adults. If you follow me, you know I just adored “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” and while I continued to love the characters and writing in the next two books, I was disappointed in the plot lines.
This time, however, I was thrilled. In this installment, it is Christmas time, and Flavia is determined to “trap” Father Christmas up on the roof to prove his existence to her two unfeeling and scornful sisters. Meanwhile, her father has rented their home estate to be used for a movie featuring a famous actress. In all the excitement of filming and house guests, along with Christmas and snowstorms, a murder occurs, and Flavia is determined to figure out who the murderer is (while they are all snowed in!).
If you’ve read the other books, or even if you haven’t, I highly recommend this one!
See this book on Amazon where I am an Associate: (and thanks to Father Christmas who brought me mine!)