Thanks to the wonder that is Edelweiss, I recently had a chance to read an advanced copy of the newest installment of Alan Bradley's excellent Flavia de Luce series, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. I've been on the edge of my seat since the previous volume ended with a most unexpected, thrilling, series-changing cliffhanger.
You know the feeling. It's been, literarily, agonizing. Flavia's one of the most unique and intoxicating narrators I've encountered and in the past few years a new Flavia installment has been one of the highlights of every year... and with such a cliffhanger? Agony!
As the series title would suggest, these slightly cozy mysteries introduce the reader to the positively marvelous Flavia de Luce. Flavia is a clever, curious young girl with a passion for chemistry (specifically, poisons) and a knack for observation. She lives in a stately-but-quietly-decaying country house in 1950s England along with her eccentric, emotionally distant family. Since she's the heroine of a mystery series, she manages to get herself into all kinds of trouble when strangers and happenings wander into her life -- bodies in the cucumber patch, for example. She's constantly a little too clever for her own good, one sharp comment away from trouble, and one step ahead of the police. Or so she'd like to think; it's possible she's not the most impartial of narrators.
No real series spoilers here, but the new book swiftly deals with that cliffhanger and broadens Flavia's world and family history in nigh-unbelievable, serious ways. She grows up a little, learns a lot, but remains Flavia de Luce through and through. The things revealed in the new book left my mind reeling, wondering how certain revelations would color my view of the previous volumes... and so I've decided to kick off 2014 with the Great Flavia Re-Read! Despite having a stack of things to get to, here is a picture of my immediate reading future:
Did I mention the design of the books is just gorgeous?
The first in the series is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie -- if you haven't read a Flavia yet, definitely start there! I've read that there's going to be a television adaptation of these at some point, and that Bradley is going to be writing more adventures for Flavia beyond this first "arc," so I'm currently filled with an abundance of fannish glee.
Have you read the Flavia series? Do you have a favorite "cozy" mystery series that you can't help but recommend when the discussion turns to books?