Is there anything more exciting than a new release in a favorite series? One of my favorite series is the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. Flavia is such a unique character, brilliant and brave, but with her own special flaws and blind spots. I love her as much as anyone can love a fictional child prodigy, which is really quite a lot. When As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust was released in January 2015, I could not wait for the mail system to deliver my prize and ordered it on Kindle so I could read it as soon as possible. However, the hardcover copy of her book has delights you miss in electronic editions—little things like a handwriting font for Flavia’s notes on who could chop off a head for example and the sheer pleasure of easily flipping back to a passage when events transpire to cast another light on it.
In As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, Flavia has been shipped off to Canada, or as she put, she’s been BANISHED. I was pleased to see Bradley send her off to a new location to interact with new characters. Often when a mystery series gets several books in, certain bad habits develop such as describing people the same way over and over. Familiar people become cliches and writers develop crutches in characterization such as Kinsey Millhone’s relentless cutting of her hair with nail scissors in Sue Grafton’s alphabet series. I saw this happening with Flavia when writing about the policeman and his wife in her village, for example. Transporting her to another continent removes all that is familiar and gives Bradley and Flavia a new start.
Thankfully, the surroundings changed, but Flavia did not. She’s as irrepressible and disobedient as ever. It’s not that she wants to be disobedient, but she follows a higher law, a law driven formed by a thirst for knowledge and for justice.
I loved this book and love it even more in print. When the next Flavia comes out this September, I might even wait for the print version to come in the mail. If you love fun mysteries with a bit of intrigue and an unsinkable heroine with the spunk of Pippi Longstocking, the genius of Artemis Fowl and the courage of Harry Potter, Flavia de Luce is your girl. It’s good to start at the beginning, though As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust is enough of a fresh start that you can begin here and circle back around. If Flavia is new to you, you are in for a treat, actually several treats as this is the eighth in the series.