Oh yes. Today is the day. Book Six.
If you're not reading this fantabulous series by Alan Bradley, feel free to go about your day completely unaware of the wonderousness that is the world of Flavia de Luce. But if you are, well then...you are about as happy as a pig in poop that today is the official release day of Book Six, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches. And you're probably not even reading this blog. You've probably got your nose buried in Book Six.
Well good on you, I say. (It's sooooo good!)
For those of you who haven't yet delved into Flavia's world, I suppose a few words would not be remiss. The Flavia de Luce books are, ostensibly, considered cozy mysteries. But I have yet to meet one fan who reads them for the mysteries they contain. We read them to get lost in Flavia's world. Flavia de Luce is a mere eleven year old girl growing up in the rural English countryside in the year 1951. She lives with her family in their dilapidated family estate of Buckshaw. While the de Luce family name is a revered one in England, their financial situation is reduced and the estate is going to ruin. Flavia's quirky family includes her two elder sisters Ophelia and Daphne, neither of whom she gets along with, and her very remote, very stiff-upper-lip father. Her mother, Harriet, is a hazy figure neither Flavia nor the reader get to meet, having disappeared in a tragic Himalayan climbing expedition while Flavia was just a toddler.
Being largely left to her own devices, Flavia discovers a chemistry lab in one of Buckshaw's numerous closed-up wings and commandeers it as her own. Her self-taught adventures in chemistry are a large part of her charm and humor and oftentimes lead her down paths she probably ought not go down. Each character - her sisters, her father, the two household servants who are really more like family, the plethora of townsfolk who populate the novels - is endowed with such endearing, funny, and quirky traits that it is nearly impossible not to fall in love with them.
As much as I love the characters, the setting, and nearly everything about the Flavia de Luce stories, I will admit right here and now that I very nearly gave up on these books after the fourth novel in the series. (Gasp!) Here was the problem: the author chose not to age Flavia over the course of these books. As a result, by book four we had an eleven year old girl who had seen four fairly gruesome crimes all in a single year and all occurring in the same sleepy little English town. This was stretching even my patience.
But then the author did the unthinkable: he dropped a literary bomb in my lap at the end of book five (literally the last page...my jaw dropped). I spent the rest of 2013 impatiently waiting for book six. I couldn't wait. And was it worth it?
Yes. Yes. And yes. It wasn't at all what I expected (again, Bradley made my jaw drop, this time on the first page), but it was a revival of the Flavia de Luce series in a way I could never have imagined. Bradley has opened so many new doors for Flavia that waiting for the next book will be agony....and there are very few series that I am impatient for the next arrival.
So kudos to Alan Bradley who deserves an award for the Best Revival of What Was Already a Most Excellent Series.
Title: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
Author: Alan Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Series: Flavia de Luce, Book 6