New Fiction Review: I Am Half Sick of Shadows (Flavia de Luce)

As we start the celebration of National Novel Writing Month, I’d like to celebrate a great contemporary American author with a little “Guess Who.” The fourth book of his murder mystery series is available to the public today. He started writing the first novel in the series when he was 70-something years old. Know who I’m talking about? Author Alan Bradley. He is the perfect example that it’s never too late to try something different! Bradley grew up in Toronto and worked at various TV and radio stations before working at the University of Saskatchewan as the Director of Television Engineering. While he did write a memior while teaching different writing courses at the University, his first novel, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was published while Bradley was in his 70’s. Sweetness quickly became an award-winning international bestseller.

A lot of people ask me for book recommendations, and the first thing I always ask is, “Have you read Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie?” Since its debut in 2009, Bradley has written several other books in the series – The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag (2010), A Red Herring Without Mustard (2011) and now, available to the public today, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows.

Flavia de Luce is one of my favorite characters of all time. She’s a eleven year old girl with heart and spunk. She’s curious and a lover of all things related to chemistry. She doesn’t get along with her sisters, who constantly pick on her. She loves her bike, which she named Gladys. My eleven year old self would have loved her as a best friend. Bradley writes from the point of view of Flavia beautifully.

In the fourth installment, I am Half-Sick of Shadows, the de Luces are in danger of losing their house in Bishop’s Lacey, so Flavia’s father lets a film crew use their house to film a movie around Christmastime. To Flavia’s surprise, the main actors in the film are extremely famous. Soon the entire village is coming to their house to watch the actors perform – but it ends with a horrible murder. Flavia goes into investigation mode to try and figure out who the killer is.

All of the Flavia de Luce novels are just good, clean fun. But beware — once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it down!

As we saw with Alan Bradley, you’re never too old start writing – and even become a bestselling author! For more information on National Novel Writing Month and tips on writing, check out

— Kristen B.

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