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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

(Flavia de Luce #4)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  34,650 ratings  ·  3,812 reviews
It's Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce - an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving - is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces' decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis ...more
Hardcover, 293 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Random House Doubleday
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Popular Answered Questions
A P You probably would enjoy it more and know more about Flavia if you read the books in order.
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Kim It’s probably “pudding”. I just finished this book but maybe I’ll go back again to that part see if that answer fits.

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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  34,650 ratings  ·  3,812 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
”IN MY ELEVEN YEARS of life I’ve seen a number of corpses. Each of them was interesting in a different way, and this one was no exception.”

Flavia de Luce always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong right time. She doesn’t have to leave her small town of Bishop’s Lacey to find a steady supply of bodies recently discarded by their souls. Due to precarious pecuniary circumstances Flavia’s father has recently rented out the ancestral home of Buckshaw to a film crew. Flavia has been busy in he
Jun 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
It was pleasure to dive back in Alan Brsdley’s world and to solve another crime tgether with young prodigy Flavia De Luce. I do not read these books so much for the mystery as I read them for the joy to return to 1950’s Buckshaw, the de Luces' decaying English estate. Flavia is an amateur chemist, passionate about poison and this time she has to use her wit and knowledge to uncover a killer who struck right in their house. In order to gain a bit of money and to be able to keep the house, Flavia’ ...more
May 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Mr. Bradley, write faster!
Danielle Young
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Probability and reality are not reasons to read a Flavia de Luce book, and that is as true for I Am Half-Sick of Shadows as any of them. I am not looking for a well crafted mystery when I read these books, I am looking to romp around with the characters (especially Flavia) that populate the strange little world of Bishops Lacey. A romp (with a good dash of firework chemistry) is what this book delivers. This book takes place solely in Buckshaw (where pretty much the entire town of BL happens to ...more
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this might be my favourite of Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series yet. She still gets herself into scrapes (and just wait until you see what she is cooking up for Santa Claus in her chemistry lab) but she seems to be growing up and is less an annoying child and more an insightful, but nosy (and still precocious) pre-adolescent.

In the week before Christmas, Flavia's impoverished father, Colonel Haviland de Luce has rented out the use of their stately home, Buckshaw House, to a film comp
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. Really enjoyed this one! We get some hints about Dogger and Aunt Felicity’s past and Flavia attempts to prove the existence of Father Christmas by scientific means. This one has a slightly Agatha Christie vibe to it. Loved the ice rink at the beginning of the book!
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flavia de Luce is an 11 year old alchemist and super sleuth. She actually has her own laboratory in the de Luce country estate, thanks to her deceased Uncle Tar. She is quite precocious. She is brilliant and not afraid of anything and is very observant and nosy, which gets her in a lot of trouble. She does get herself back out of trouble because she is able to figure out and manipulate how. I know, I’m describing an 11 year old girl and those characteristics just don’t seem normal for an 11 year ...more
Richard Derus
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

The Book Report: Flavia de Luce does Christmas. Buckshaw, Bishop's Lacey, is now the scene of Ilium Films's new Phyllis Wyvern extravaganza, The Cry of the Raven. The film company has paid the desperately strapped-for-cash Colonel Haviland de Luce a sizable sum to use Buckshaw as the backdrop for this bound-to-be-mega hit, which means Christmas will be spent with an entire film crew up the family's collective backside. Flavia meets the famous Miss Wyvern as she enters the house
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it
There is plenty to love in this installment of Flavia de Luce's adventures, especially if you are her existing fan. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows is a Christmas story, with a great infusion of some new blood, which is a must for any series focusing on such a tiny place as Bishop's Lacey. Flavia's father is forced to rent out Buckshaw to a movie company to film its new feature. When the star of the movie is found murdered, Flavia is on full alert. Now she has two Christmas cases on her hands - the mu ...more
Not much of a mystery, but fun enough if you like the cast of characters and are interested in the larger story arc about Bishop's Lacy, its inhabitants, and their pasts. Flavia is as long-nosed and incorrigible as ever. Homemade fireworks are involved. ...more
Apr 04, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobooks, fun
4 Stars for I Am Half-Sick of Shadows: Flavia de Luce Mystery Series, Book 4 by Alan Bradley read by Jayne Entwistle.

This is such a fun mystery series. The character is great and the narration is wonderful.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, mystery
At this point, I've elected not to take these books seriously at all, and just enjoy them for what they are without picking nits. After all, at least it features a curious, resourceful young girl who is interested in chemistry and forensics, who solves murders in a delightfully Blyton-esque way by getting herself all tangled up in them. Of course there're problems with this... fetishisation of an old British country house and ~British spirit~*, etc, Flavia tampering with crime scenes, the nigh-o ...more
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read all four Flavia de Luce novels in the last couple of weeks, I'm all Flavia'd out for the time being. She certainly is unique -- who else would try to capture Father Christmas by coating the roof and chimneys in birdlime? -- but perhaps is best taken in small doses. I don't think I can take much more of her tampering with crime scenes. (Does this bother anybody else? I could understand her looking around, but she disturbs the body, moves things around, and steals evidence for her own ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really don't care that much about the mysteries in this series. I read these books to spend time with the inimitable Flavia de Luce. She's often hilarious as she goes about her home and Bishop's Lacey while commenting on everything and everyone, and while plotting new ways to respond to Feely's and Daffy's taunts and put-downs. Though she doesn't spend much time on it, Flavia shows us how her sisters' behaviour hurts her deeply.
This installment, Flavia wants to find proof of Father Christmas a
Susan in NC
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
5/9/2021 reread: listened to the audiobook this time, the narrator is terrific, really captures Flavia’s youthful exuberance! The Christmas setting at a snowed-in Buckshaw was interesting after the last few books where our heroine rode her bike all over her rural English village, chasing adventure and clues. I’m also enjoying rereading these books to reacquaint myself with a fascinating young heroine, and her very complex relationships with her widowed father, two elder sisters, and the elusive ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I am half-sick of Flavia de Luce. Yes, in this series she's been a precocious narrator of her own brilliant, amateur sleuthing as well as infatuation with chemistry, especially concerning poisons. There's been a good amount of good humor, as well as violent denouements which don't fit the overall setting.
The setting, a large, old estate in a small town, must have been begging for the full blown "cozy" treatment, because this one delivers that, in your face, to the point that in the end, the Insp
***I won this book from Goodreads as a First Reads giveaway***

I am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

I very much enjoyed reading this novel. It is the fourth installment in a series of books about Flavia de Luce. Eleven year old Flavia lives with her sisters Daphne and Ophelia and her father, Colonel Haviland De Luce, in a rambling old mansion in the English countryside. The story is set around Christmas sometime during 1940’s-1950's era.

Flavia is quite a character, someone straight out of the
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
These are fun, easy, light, reads. For me, the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley is just for fun. I enjoy Flavia and her adventures. I always say that she never sounds like a little girl, but this one was the closest of her being and acting her own age. I really liked that and it made me smile. I also like her family dynamic. It is her anchor and she knows that, even with the tension with her sisters.
Claire Huston
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely spiffing! 4.5/5 stars

This review was originally posted on my book blog.

I listened to the audiobook version of I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, narrated by Sophie Aldred.

I picked up this audiobook from the library because it was the only title in the mp3 range which appealed to me. I didn’t have a clue that it’s number 4 in a series, and I’m very happy to report it made very little difference to my enjoyment of the story.

I LOVED this. It took a while to get used to Flavia’s incredibly idiosy
Nikki in Niagara
Reason for Reading: next in the series.

Oh, the sweet pure pleasure of reading a Flavia de Luce mystery, the witty and wise 11yo chemist with a propensity for poisons. Book 4 in the series is as fresh and original as book 1 and, I think at this point, my favourite in the series. Making a great Christmas gift as our action takes place on Christmas Eve this is sure to please fans and newcomers alike. Fans will be pleased to see familiar faces but newcomers won't miss a thing just jumping in with th
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
A witty homage to the Golden Age of detective fiction and its dame Agatha Christie, though, honestly, having read four books of the series, I'm so in love with Flavia, that I would not mind this book being just a story of de Luce family with bits of a decent detective. Flavia is Conan Doyle-ish sort of a detective, and yet she's a very touching 11 year old girl, who hunts down not only murderers but Father Christmas too. I'd love to conclude this mess of a review with a quote that nearly made me ...more
Jun 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the family finances in their usual perilous position, Flavia's father has given over Buckshaw to a film crew at Christmas. Previously wrapped up in plans to trap Father Christmas, Flavia turns her attention to the newcomers and befriends the famous actress, Phyllis Wyvern.

The vicar managed to convince Phyllis to give a performance of "Romeo and Juliet," for the benefit of the Church roof and, later that night, Flavia discovers the actresses dead body and, of course, sets out to discover the
There is but one word that appositely describes this book and its predecessors, "delightful." The plot, the setting, and the wonderful character of Flavia de Luce take the word "delightful" and fill it out to its bursting seams. I want to read these stories as fast as I can, and, yet, I want them to never end. I highly recommend this book and the others to anyone who needs a smile, a tug of the heart, a warm fuzzy feeling of comfort and joy. In this latest tale, Flavia's beloved Buckshaw, decayi ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
Book 4 of the Flavia de Luce series, this was actually the third I’ve read since I haven’t yet got my hands on book 3. In this one, it is Christmas time at Bishop’s Lacey, and Colonel de Luce, in even more dire straits has decided to let out Buckshaw to a film crew. To her surprise the famous actress Phyllis Wyvern has heard of Flavia (her success as a detective previously), and they strike up something of a friendship, Ms Wyvern seeming to understand Flavia more than others do. But before long ...more
Book Concierge
Audio performed by Jayne Entwhistle

In this 4th installment of the Flavia DeLuce series we find Buckshaw overrun with a cinema crew just at Christmas. It’s the perfect setting for the film and they’ll pay handsomely (keeping the estate afloat for another year). Flavia, however, is much more concerned with whether Father Christmas is real. In an effort to settle the question once and for all, she concocts a chemical trap – her own sort of SuperGlue – which she spreads around the chimneys. Mean
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The only disappointment I found in this book was that it ended at 300 pages instead of at 3000. I adore Flavia De Luce. She is one of my favorite characters in all fiction.

A couple of quotes from this series:

“Tell them we may not be praying with them," Father told the Vicar, "but we are at least not actively praying against them.”

“Books are like oxygen to a deep-sea diver," she had once said. "Take them away and you might as well begin counting the bubbles.”

“Anyone who knew the word slattern wa
Jun 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read three Flavia de Luce mysteries a couple years ago, so I knew what to expect. Flavia is a precocious eleven year old with a penchant for chemistry, living in a ghotic mansion with his father and two older sisters, a few years after the second world war. She is sharp as a blade, loves finding out things and generally poking her nose into things.

It is amazing how many corpses come into Flavia’s way to in the sleepy countryside. By my count, one about every two-three months, as she never
Katie Hanna
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not on par with Agatha Christie's plotting (let's face it: WHO IS?) but nevertheless, a delightfully morbid and cozily atmospheric British country-house mystery, starring an 11yr old chemistry prodigy. I enjoyed this, and I'll be checking out the rest of the series soon.
Oh Flavia, if only you were real and my neighbor. What fun we would have!

Child chemist extraordinaire and murder sleuth uses her wits to solve the murder of a film star whose demise happened in her own home during a filming and Christmas. Never without its own perils, Flavia again goes head to head with the jovial inspector to find the whodunnit, albeit not exactly with his awareness nor approval.

A bit more humor injected, as well as a little nod to the likes of Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz
Chance Lee
Oct 25, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked this one, but not as much as the others in the series. It took a while to get going.

The entire book is set in Buckshaw, Flavia's epic estate. This incredible mansion would be a fine enough setting, but I missed Flavia zipping around Bishop's Lacey on her trusty bicycle, Gladys. At the half-way point, the residents Bishop's Lacey comes to Buckshaw for a show. Ah-ha, Flavia doesn't need to travel to Bishop's Lacey; Bishop's Lacey will come to her! This is when I finally became invested in
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

With an education in electronic engineering, Alan worked at numerous radio and television stations in Ontario, and at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University) in Toronto, before becoming Director of Television Engineering in the media centre at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where

Other books in the series

Flavia de Luce (10 books)
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)
  • The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia de Luce, #2)
  • A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce, #3)
  • Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce, #5)
  • The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce, #6)
  • As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce, #7)
  • Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd (Flavia de Luce, #8)
  • The Grave's a Fine and Private Place (Flavia de Luce, #9)
  • The Golden Tresses of the Dead (Flavia de Luce, #10)

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Here at Goodreads World Headquarters, we like to encourage an informal, lateral-thinking approach to reading. If you’ve never tried it, themed...
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“Books are like oxygen to a deep-sea diver," she had once said. "Take them away and you might as well begin counting the bubbles.” 157 likes
“Although it is pleasant to think about poison at any season, there is something special about Christmas, and I found myself grinning.” 31 likes
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