Reviews for I Am Half-sick of Shadows

Kirkus Reviews 2011 October #1
Flavia, the cheeky 11-year-old who knows her way around a sulfurous beaker, is at it again. Determined to prove that there is a Santa Claus, Flavia de Luce retreats to her laboratory in the upper reaches of Buckshaw, the family estate, to concoct a glue that will cement him to the flue should he try to descend on Christmas Eve. While it's steeping, she and her tormentors, her older sisters Feely and Daffy, hear from their father, the Colonel, that financial distress has caused him to rent out Buckshaw to Ilium Films. The company will have free run of the place except for the Colonel's study and his deceased wife Harriet's boudoir. Learning that the fabulous actress Phyllis Wyvern will be in residence, the vicar of Bishop's Lacey pops around to ask if she'll star in a fundraiser for the church. She coaxes her co-star to join her in a scene from Romeo and Juliet to be staged in Buckshaw's foyer. The performance has just finished when a snowstorm strands the villagers at the estate, with no heat, no electricity and no immediate possibility of police intervention. As one might expect, Flavia can deal with it all, even when she finds poor Phyllis dead in the middle of the night, a strip of celluloid tightly wound around her neck. Many of her showbiz colleagues had reason not to like her, from her director to her dresser to her driver. But whodunit? Inspector Hewitt will eventually get through the snow to start his inquiries, but meanwhile Flavia will piece together clues that will lead to the sticky ending she'd planned for Santa. The plot's murderous aspects are on the skimpy side. But who can complain when that serial charmer Flavia (A Red Herring Without Mustard, 2011, etc.) is on hand, wreathed in Tennyson and Shakespeare? Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 October #2

England's most famous 11-year-old sleuth returns in Bradley's much anticipated fourth novel (after A Red Herring Without Mustard). It is Christmas, and Colonel de Luce, faced with impending bankruptcy, has agreed to rent the family estate out to a British film studio. The whole village is agog with the arrival of Phyllis Wyvern, famous beauty and film star. Flavia, however, is preoccupied with plans of her own. Ophelia and Daphne, her vile older sisters, have told her the shocking news that Father Christmas doesn't exist. Intent on capturing the jolly old elf herself, she turns to her "savage passion for chemistry" for inspiration. But murder and mayhem have a way of following our impish heroine, and soon Flavia is presented with a crime to puzzle out. VERDICT This is a delightful read through and through. We find in Flavia an incorrigible and wholly lovable detective; from her chemical experiments in her sanctum sanctorum to her outrage at the idiocy of the adult world, she is unequaled. Charming as a stand-alone novel and a guaranteed smash with series followers. [See Prepub Alert, 5/2/11.]--Amy Nolan, St. Joseph P.L., MI

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 September #4

Christmas comes early for precocious Flavia de Luce with the arrival of a glamorous London film crew at Buckshaw, her family's country house, in Agatha-winner Bradley's fourth post-WWII mystery starring the endearing 11-year-old sleuth (after February 2011's A Red Herring Without Mustard). Flavia, a chemistry prodigy, must push her previous project--concocting a super stickum to trap Santa--to the back burner after actress Phyllis Wyvern turns up dead in a wingback chair with "a length of ciné film, tied tightly, but neatly, in an elaborate black bow" around her throat. The murder investigation pits the cheeky schoolgirl's considerable deductive prowess against the local constabulary--and puts her in grave danger. With its sharply drawn characters, including the hiss-worthy older de Luce sisters, and an agreeable puzzle playing out against the cozy backdrop of a British village at Christmas, this is a most welcome holiday gift for Flavia fans. (Nov.)

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