Monday, December 29, 2014

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley
Random House: 1/6/2015
eBook, 416 pages
ISBN-13: 9780345539939
Flavia de Luce Series #7

Banished! is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia’s first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school’s stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim’s identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task—but her true destiny has yet to be revealed.

My Thoughts:

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley is the highly recommended seventh book featuring the precocious chemist and toxicologist Flavia de Luce.

In As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust Flavia has been sent away from her family home in Bishop’s Lacey, England, to Canada where she has been enrolled in her late mother’s alma mater, Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy. Flavia can immediately discern that "the faculty of Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy had one thing in common: They were all dead serious. There was no frivolity: no laughter and no lipstick." The academy is "the slap in the face with a velvet glove, the sting in the smile, the razor blade in the butter." Even in a new environment without her normal support and lab available, Flavia proves to be an intelligent, astute investigator.

On Flavia's first night at the academy another student, P.A. Collingwood, bursts into her room, pummeling her, until she realizes that Flavia is not the student she thought. Then, when an angry knock at the door makes it clear that the girls are about to get caught by Miss Fawlthorne, the head of school, Collingwood shimmers up the chimney to hide. This action results in a charred mummified body falling out of the chimney and the detached skull rolling across the floor.

Flavia likes nothing better than having a murder to solve. She learns that three girls have gone missing at the school. Could one of them be the body? Luckily, from all the movies Flavia has watched at the cinema with Daffy and Feely, Flavia already has a handle on her first foreign language and learned it well, so she is able to converse with the locals. Even in the new setting and apart from her normal set of confidantes, Flavia relishes trying to solve the murder mystery.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust is a strong addition to the YA series that is enjoyed and heralded with equal fervor by many adults. It is a bit different from the others in the series because Bradley has set Flavia down in a totally new environment without her familiar people and tools available to help her investigation. This new setting requires some time spent on describing the new setting and characters. Bradley is up to the task and does an excellent job presenting this latest adventure. There will be a surprise at the end that should please fans.

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy for the Kindle was courtesy of Random House for review purposes.

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