Carolyn Hill's Reviews > I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
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Feb 05, 12

Read in February, 2012

As with all the Flavia de Luce books, this was a fun romp. Flavia's father has rented Buckshaw, the family manor house, to a film crew to bring in badly needed funds. Having recently seen My Week with Marilyn, I could easily imagine the film crew taking over Buckshaw. Why they were filming over the Christmas holiday, however, remains one of those questions without a satisfactory answer, except that it suited the plot devices of the author. A snowstorm leaves the entire film crew as well as locals visiting for a fundraising show stranded at Buckshaw, and knocks out the phone line as well. When a murder most foul occurs no one, of course, is allowed to leave and everyone could be considered a suspect. But motivation? Well, the author never comes up with a very good one. The contrast between Flavia's youthful naivete and intellectual prowess in chemistry is particularly glaring as she sets out to catch Father Christmas on top of the chimney. For an eleven-year-old, her continuing belief, albeit wavering, in Santa Claus seems highly unlikely, even if it is 1950. Again, it seems strained to suit the plot. Flavia's sleuthing gets her in trouble as always, and some of her antics are downright cringe-inducing. While Flavia is amusing and the returning characters play their assigned roles, there is little in the way of character development or revelations about the household's past. New characters are introduced with only the flimsiest of sketches. The weak and disjointed plot and lack of motivation make this one of the series less than the best.
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