Flavia de Luce #7. For those who have been faithfully following the Flavia de Luce series, we knew As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust was going to be a major turning point for our intrepid young heroine. Bradley's last novel left us with the tantalizing knowledge that Flavia was being shipped off to a rather unusual boarding school in Canada.
And so this novel begins and the entire thing must have been a challenge for Bradley given that most of the characters that have populated Flavia's life (and the novels) up until this point in the series were not present in this story, making for a very isolated and unnerving atmosphere, both for the reader and Flavia herself.
There is, of course, a corpse. But while previous novels have focused entirely on Flavia's solving the mystery of how that corpse became a corpse, this novel devoted just as much story line to the mystery of Flavia's new boarding school and it's mysterious occupants. While the corpse and the boarding school mystery do, eventually, dovetail together it did make for some disjointed reading at times.
Those who read the Flavia novels purely for the enjoyment of the setting of Buckshaw are likely to be thrown a little off kilter by this novel, but I think you ought to give it it's due. Because - and this is important - Bradley give us his now-signature Huge-Twist-We-Didn't-See-Coming at the end. Honestly, he is one of the only authors who is ever able to surprise me. And I was, admittedly, enormously pleased with his twist in this one....so don't miss it if you read the series.
The bottom line is that Flavia is growing up. We all knew it had to happen. The question has always been how Bradley was going to handle it. In my opinion, he's doing quite well indeed.