In 2009, the title of a book – and it’s cover – both grabbed and maintained my attention: and that book was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley’s first novel in the now-continuing Flavia de Luce series. Flavia is the heroine of his 1950s era Great Britain-in-a-crumbling-estate-setting mystery novels. She’s an eavesdropping, bike-riding, braces-wearing 12-year-old with a passion (and unique talent) for chemistry. I fell in love with these books from the first page – actually the first sentence. My creative writing teacher in college stressed the importance of a good metaphor or simile – not using cliches, etc. And that is why that first sentence grabbed me. I think you’d all love them too, but just in case you’re hesitant, here are 3 reasons I think you should read them:
- A Unique Heroine – She’s a girl, and 12 years old. And deep down all of us are still connected with that part of our lives. The fact that she also struggles with her relationship with her sisters, despises having to wear braces, and never seems to be bothered by dead bodies makes her both relatable and fascinating.
- An Unusual Method – as a 12-year-old Flavia can’t work through these murder mysteries like your usual detectives can. So it’s the element of chemistry – and her knowledge of it – that gives her the edge she always needs (and Bradley’s depth of knowledge in this subject is just astounding).
- A Well-Rounded cast – While delightful and charming in her own way, Flavia certainly has her flaws. And left on her own, I truly believe she would be beyond annoying as a character. But it is all the other “secondary” characters that help balance and shape her that really give the books a level of insight and depth that they’d otherwise be lacking. You would love meeting Dogger, Inspector Hewitt, Cynthia Richardson, and even Daphne and Ophelia (the antagonistic older sisters).
We’re featuring this author and series, but the latest Flavia de Luce novel –Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d – is now available for purchase. These are books that I always have pre-ordered. So if you haven’t already gotten it, go for it! And if you need to start, you can use these links for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – and the kindle is even on sale right now for $4.99.
Series in order:
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
- The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
- A Red Herring Without Mustard
- I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
- Speaking from Among the Bones
- The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches.
- As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
- Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d
Purchase Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d here.
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