So let’s talk books shall we? All my intentions of getting a crafty blog written this weekend fell away after my visit to the bookstore on Friday. I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket and there is no better gift to me than a book.
I had been waiting eagerly for the next installment of the Flavia de Luce tale. I could hardly wait to crack the cover of The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. The titles alone make these books intriguing.
The previous book in the series, Speaking From Among the Bones, had left the reader hanging on the final words. Exciting and frustrating at the same time, when forced to wait a year for the action to move on.
To be clear, I have not been asked to write this review, I am doing so because I just love this series and I wish everyone could read and enjoy the adventures of the 11-soon-to-be-12 year old Flavia. I will also attempt to not give any spoilers.
This is a series that you simply must read right from the start. It opens with the first book; The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, in the dawning of 1950’s England and introduces you to young Flavia as she cheerfully navigates the murky waters of that space between child and woman. I am continually astounded that the author, Alan Bradley, can capture the essence of an eleven year old girl so well. As I read I am transported back to my own tween years and find myself saying – yes I remember feeling exactly that way. She is both wise and naive in equal measure, incredibly brave, possibly because she is young enough to not see her adventures as dangerous, and she is as resourceful, as she is fearless.
The books move along with fast-paced plots and have a wonderful set of characters that you come to cherish quickly. The immediate mysteries are resolved with Flavia’s determined, though unsolicited, help thanks to her remarkably well equipped laboratory, love of chemistry (particularly poisons), and her ever steadfast bicycle – Gladys.
The entire series of six books is spread over a transitional year for Flavia and you see her grow. While each book has a satisfying puzzle of its own, there is also an underlying mystery of what really happened to Flavia’s long lost Mother. Here lies the tricky landscape of spoilers. This most recent book answers many of Flavia’s questions and lays a path for her future. I am not sure if Mr Bradley will continue the series, I sincerely hope he does, but even as a standalone series of six, these books are not to be missed.
There has been talk of a TV series and I heard someone from the wonderful Call the Midwife is involved. This gives me great hope that it will be well done. It is essential that characters so well drawn be cast with care so as to not disappoint the legion of Flavia fans.
One of my measures of a good book is how often I notice something in my world and wonder how it would be viewed through the eyes of a favourite character. Flavia continues to live in my heart.
Some of my copies are pictured below, not in order or a complete set.
Author : Alan Bradley
Series in order:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s bag
A Red Herring Without Mustard
I Am Half Sick of Shadows
Speaking From Among the Bones
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches