Friday, June 5, 2015

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7) - Alan Bradley

Summary: Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide.

No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school. (Summary and Pic from goodreads,com)

My Review: I feel like I’ve been telling you this for awhile now, and I wasn’t even so subtle when I added this series to my top 15 faves list, but if you haven’t read the Flavia de Luce Series, you really should. It’s hilarious. It’s hilarious all the time, but this book. Well. It took it to another level.

I’ve thought about this a lot, and I can’t decide if I would actually like to know Flavia or just really enjoy reading her inner thoughts. On the outside, I know she’s hilarious. She doesn’t necessarily think she is—she thinks she’s got everybody hoodwinked, and for that she is a completely unreliable narrator. I guess that’s to be expected from a 12-year-old. Some characters in the books find her charming—and many more find her annoying. Suffice it to say that most people really see through her.  This makes for a most humorous read, in which Flavia is constantly doing things that are just…well. Haven’t I told you its hilarious? Seriously, so funny. So would I like to know her? I don’t know. Not if it would be at the expense of not actually reading her thoughts because peeps, she is hilarious. It’s the best kind of humor, too. Smart, sarcastic, intelligent, well-timed, sometimes subtle. We’re not talking SNL. We’re talking 12-year-old schoolgirl/amateur chemist/wannabe detective funny. Maybe that’s not selling it. But trust me.

You may find it strange that the author—an older man—would have such insight into a 12-year-old British girl from the 50’s. I’m here to tell you that he does. He has nailed Flavia. She is funny, she is smart, she is dramatic, and sometimes she is just 12, and I totally love her. She is one of my favorite characters in any series. If I’m not selling this series to you by now I just don’t know what to say.

This book was a fun addition to the series. All of the other books take place in the ramshackle ancestral home of the de Luces, but in this one Flavia has been sent to Ms. Bodycote’s Female Academy, a boarding school in Canada. She is completely out of her element. Whereas in today’s world, Canada is just one Siri chat away from knowing all things, Canada to a British girl in the fifties who has never traveled far away from home would be utterly disconcerting. Flavia handles it with the kind of, er, grace you would expect, and all kinds of shenanigans ensue.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust is a great addition to this series. It introduces new characters and places and new situations that Buckshaw just couldn’t, but there is a fair amount of hearkening back to Flave’s family and home so that it still has that feel that I know and love. It is able to preserve the original charm of the books while adding to its normal line-up.

I think this is the funniest of the series so far. Bradley has really hit his stride and developed a character that is real and tangible. I am so glad the series is continuing. If you haven’t read the series, you can still read this book without the commitment of the other six. It doesn’t leave you wondering or lost. However, I promise that the series is a worthwhile read.

My Rating: 5 stars

For the sensitive reader: This book does discuss murder, but it is not graphic or shocking. There is some mild language and teenagers smoking.

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