Book Review: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows

Posted December 14, 2011 by Whitney in Review / 1 Comment

Book Review: I Am Half-Sick of ShadowsI Am Half-Sick of Shadows
Author Alan Bradley
Series: Flavia de Luce #4
Publisher Random House
Publication Date November 1, 2011
Genre: Mystery
Source: Bought
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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. Amid a blizzard, the village gathers at Buckshaw to watch famed Phyllis Wyvern perform. After midnight, a body is found strangled by film. Flavia investigates.

I felt I Am Half-Sick of Shadows had a little Sunset Boulevard vibe to it, only Flavia is not found in a swimming pool.   Phyllis Wyvern, while still pretty and popular on screen has started to age and watches old silent pictures of herself during her “hay day”.  Unfortunately, the film reels are how she meets her end, strangled by movies of her past.  Can anyone say “I’m ready for my close up”?  Although in true Flavia fashion, she soon unravels the true Norma Desmond.

The fourth installment to the Flavia de Luce series felt, not only like old Hollywood but also one of those murder mystery dinners and waited for someone to shout the Butler did it!  With the whole of Bishop’s Lacy in Buckshaw’s four walls, the world is a murder mystery’s oyster.  I love the premise and direction of this novel, my only complaint is that I figured out who the butler was before the book’s end.   This was unfortunate as in prior novels I was kept on the edge of my seat guessing, and while there were definitely twists involved there was not a big zinger.

Although, like the uniqueness of Flavia’s name the story matched her personality, wacky with a scientific craftiness.  As the series moves on, the de Luces becomes more developed with dark family secrets edging to emerge, and personalities become even more formed. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows is a deliciously good read that has the magic of Santa Claus himself.

About Alan Bradley

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 he remained for 25 years before taking early retirement to write in 1994.


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