Writing: 4 Plot: 4 Characters: 4
Flavia is back! I mean the real Flavia – not the one masquerading as Flavia in the last two disappointing books. Not only does this title bring us back to full-Flaviaciousness but the ending prepares an excellent path forward (no cliffhangers, I promise).
If you aren’t familiar with the character, whose motto might be “better detecting through chemistry”, it is summed up nicely by her answer to a young character who asks if she is a witch: “Yes I am. I practice a specialized kind of witchcraft called thinking. It’s a very mysterious power quite unknown to the average person.”
Flavia is un-gross-out-able – yes, I made up that word. The book starts with her pulling up a corpse from river by accidentally thrusting her hand in his mouth while thinking she is masterfully catching a fish while floating down the river. She is the quirkiest of highly intelligent, nonconforming, young, heroines.
As narrator, she has a unique and flippant way of describing things. For example, as her sister plays Bach – The art of fugue – she says, “It began with the sounds of a single pipe which sounded at first like a dry bone singing itself to sleep in a crypt somewhere in the night.”
I won’t go on giving anything else away – it’s fun, its quirky, and convoluted in the most pleasant way. It’s full of traditionally interesting Bradley characters – the dead man is named Orlando and is found in red ballet slippers and a blue silk suit. For Dogger fans he plays a bigger role in this story and promises to figure highly in future books as well.